The Eritrean government has strongly remonstrated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, over what it said was forced resettlement of its citizens stranded in Libya.
Asmara contends that the UNHCR’s decision to send Eritreans to a Niger camp under a third-country resettlement scheme was unacceptable.
Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Tuesday that the Foreign Ministry had summoned the UNHCR’s resident representative over the development.
“Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry summoned today UNHCR Res. Rep. to protest against latter’s unwarranted acts to hamper GOE efforts to bring home its citizens stranded in Libya,” Meskel wrote on Twitter.
He added that the government was demanding an urgent ratification of eligibility guidelines used by the UN in resettlement efforts.
“50 Eritreans have returned home voluntarily from Libya in the past few weeks while another 18 are scheduled to arrive tomorrow (May 1),” he disclosed. It is not known exactly how many such Eritreans are stranded in Libya.
Eritrea has long been classed as one of the main contributors of migrants trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean route. The government has routinely rejected claims that unfavourable political and economic conditions back home was forcing young people to flee.
Most of them have been locked up in Libya along with other African nationals. The north African country is currently chaotic with rival factions engaged in armed combat to take control of the main capital, Tripoli.
Migrating Eritreans in the past year crossed over more into Ethiopia after a July 2018 peace deal led to the reopening of borders between the two countries. Eritrea has since unilaterally shut all the border crossings.