The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, has reiterated a call on the U.N. not to turn its back on Eritrean nationals who continue to flee the repressive regime back home.
Sheila Keetharuth told the U.N. General Assembly that citizens of the Horn of Africa country continue to suffer unending human rights violations. She added that thousands continue to walking for days in a bid to flee the country.
She listed a number of rights violations among others: arbitrary arrests, unexplained detentions and in the case of those that attempt to flee she adds that there are alleged shoot-to-kill orders carried out by the military.
“I appeal to the international community not to turn their backs on Eritrean refugees for short-term political gain in response to populist electoral demands or promises, which can translate into actual restrictions, harassment and human rights violations,” she told the General Assembly in an update on Eritrea’s human rights picture.
“At best, efforts to reduce the number of Eritrean refugees arriving will lead only to a temporary drop in numbers, but they will not stop people crossing deserts and seas in search of safe havens. No barrier will be insurmountable for someone fleeing human rights violations,” she added.
The country is seen as one of the top refugee producing countries. Most of those fleeing usually head to neighbouring Ethiopia and Sudan whiles a number of them also seek to cross the sea to go abroad.
Recent figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) show 20,000 people have crossed into a neighbouring country so far this year, nearly as many as in the whole of 2016, with 46 per cent of those transported by the IOM aged 18-24.
Keetharuth expressed worry about the absence of a constitution in the country over two decades after the attainment of independence from Ethiopia. According to her, that situation meant that she said led to the misuse of power by the state.
“Eritrea still has no constitution to provide protection for fundamental human rights, no independent judiciary, no legislative assembly – in fact no institutions that could ensure checks and balances or protect against the misuse of power by the state,” she said.