By ALFRED NGOTEZI, 23rd July 2011 @ 16:00, Total Comments: 2, Hits: 3692
THE Eritrean football players who recently abandoned their colleagues after the CECAFA competition in Dar es Salaam to seek asylum in Tanzania have brought home the rising tensions and disorder in the Horn of Africa.
I believe all efforts will be exerted to evaluate the players’ plight and my prayers are that these efforts will result in a fair verdict granting them asylum. As most of us will recall, there have been increasing incidents in the recent past involving men, women, young and old; from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea who are running for dear life to East Africa and beyond.
Most of them wear a terrible spectacle of starvation. As one commentator recently put it, they are walking skeletons. Unfortunately, most of the stories involving these poor Africans that I have come across in the media indicate that most of the asylum seekers have been turned back, sometimes, brutally.
More often than not some of these fellows have been caught trying to slip in or out, at various entry and exit points in Tanzania. It would appear that most of the time they are caught they are packed like sardines, and dispatched to their respective countries of origin.
But why should ‘a walking skeleton’, say from lawless Somalia, who manages to survive months upon months of starvation, thirst, heat, rain, bombs and bullets be denied entry into the country?
Surely, sending back such desperate people is nothing short of murdering them. I mean if someone starving is dispatched back to ravenous Somalia, it only means they will starve to death.
Doubtlessly, authorities forcing human beings back on harm’s way are murderous. Granted, there are national laws to be followed with regard to immigration. But human beings are not protected by national laws only, there are also international laws which are more superior, that grant the right-to-life for all people.
Unbelievably, this development is a complete U-turn to Tanzania, a celebrated universal paradise for human beings, a place that contentedly fed and protected not only African freedom fighters but everyone looking for help.
My readers will remember the days when Dar es Salaam was a safe haven for far-off freedom fighters like the Palestinians. I think it is said somewhere in our constitution that all humans are equal and that Africa is one.
So what equality and brotherhood are we referring to when we seem to be unperturbed by the plight of our next of kin fellows? Someone has hinted that we seem to have exchanged roles with neighbouring Kenya.
During the Liberation Struggle when our brothers and sisters from the north did not provide explicit assistance to the southern Africa freedom fighters, we in Tanzania gave blood and food. But now things have changed.
While Kenyans seem to be at the forefront of taking in asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa, we seem to be at the other end, shutting them out. Only a few weeks ago, it was judged that capacity and facilities at Kenya’s main refugee camp of Daabad had been overwhelmed. They are soon setting up a new camp somewhere else.
I know proximity could be the dictator. Kenya is too close to the Horn of Africa to ignore matters cooking in there. In much the same way, Tanzania was too proximate to southern Africa to take no notice of the horrors of racism and colonialism.
Proximity or distance, we are all human beings. Besides, as members of the international community, we are duty bound to adhere to the international law.
According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, refugees are people fleeing their home countries due to persecution, war or violence. Who doesn’t know that lawless Somalia and other neighbouring countries are currently the largest manufacturers of refugees?
Perhaps hard times, too, are to blame for our change of heart. Our capacity to finance refugee camps is becoming increasingly small due to economic hardships that we have encountered in the last few years.
Well, but is that enough reason to toss people into the lion’s mouth? At the same time I think it is our obligation to bring in the international community to finance the running of the refugee camps.
Refugees cannot be a headache to one country alone; they are a problem to humanity. I would thus expect authorities here to involve the UNHCR and the UN in general to handle this worsening situation, rather than trying to wish it away. For, locking out genuine refugees is heartless and murderous.
Total Comments on the above stories (2)
The basis of granting any asylum is political reasons. If this was to be extended to economic reasons by allowing those who have economic hardships including unemployment to seek asylum in other countries this would cause more problems. For a developing country like ours, this can be a strain to our meagre resources because we are already struggling to feed and provide jobs to our own people.
Thank you so much for your contribution. However, I fail to understand why you singled out politics as the only reason to justify asylum. I think this is wrong.
While politics is the single largest cause of most human travesties, I think allowance should be made to accommodate people fleeing from starvation, for example. That is why I believe it is murderous to lock out the Somalis, Ethiopians, Eritreans etc, whose house has caught fire.
I hope you are not suggesting that we stick to the rules and watch these people perish..
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