Eritrean Afar State in Exile(EASE)
Restoring the Dignity of the Eritrean Afar People Democratically "Eretriyah Qafarih Konnabna Demokraasil Daabisenno"
For immediate release:
March 20th, 2017- Ottawa, Canada
March 14th, Eri-TV announcement by the Eritrean government sheds light on systemic policies to displace the Afar Eritreans from resources rich and strategic coast on the red sea.
The News clip by Eritrean government claims to find a suitable environment for indigenous Afar to settle is a pure hypocrisy flying in the faces of already victimized population. This most recent government initiative to permanently settle Afar victims of June 2011 volcanic eruption of Mount Nabro , is in fact an agenda to contain the freedom of movement of an already severely marginalized and neglected communities and enforcement of policies designed to “ Land Grab and Displace” for the benefit of the regime.
The 2011, Nabro volcanic eruption which triggered a series of 5.7 magnitude earthquakes was an international event canceling flights in neighbouring countries, releasing clouds of poisonous sulphur dioxide gas for hundreds of kilometers, causing health emergencies to thousands of Afar residences in Biru, Afambo and parts of Danakil depression. This major disaster was completely ignored by Eritrean officials.
In neighbouring Ethiopia, the government launched an appeal for international foreign aid, confirmed the death of 31 people with 48,000 having been in immediate danger and 167,000 more people being at risk of toxic gases and ash falls. Eritrean government to date have not released the number of causalities directly affected as a result of volcanic eruption.
Eritrea government had ample time to act and prevent the death of hundreds of civilians and major loss to their animals due to drinking from contaminated water. Instead the surviving victims were forced settled in the vicinity of Alale desert, Wade and areas of Mogorasu with no access to water or shelter with many children and elderly dying as consequence. Furthermore, the government has deliberately prevented foreign aid from coming in to the country in order to hide the magnitude of the need due to volcanic eruption. This action by Eritrean government is six years too late. Survivors of Nabro Volcanic eruptions-2011(Courtesy EriTV)
The Afar nation who are predominately nomadic pastoralist have lived in this harsh environment many centuries before the formation of the current State of Eritrea. The Afar have lived in this region through natural disasters, environmental catastrophes, famine, regime changes and wars. The Afar are perhaps the only ethnic group tough enough to squeak a living out of arduous landscape and survive on one of the lowest point (200ft below sea level) which is dubbed as the harshest climate on the face of the earth.
Eritrean regime is exasperating an already dire situation by disrupting Afar way of life by severe restrictions and threatening their socio-economic lifeline by selling off their strategic resources which are all critical for their survival as indigenous people.
The systematic policies of displacement to grab Afar lands and resources by the regime are enforced with violence such as mass murder, rape and terror in order to remove the Afar from their ancestral homeland in (Dankalia) and to colonize the area with others. Dankalia which contains vast amount of natural resources, including large deposits of potash, various precious metals and strategic coastlines and ports are highly significant geopolitically as well as financially for Eritrean regime’s grip on power.
International community has taken strong stands against Eritrean government regarding the treatment of Afar in Eritrea. On June 8, 2016 the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea (COIE) reported that it had reasonable grounds to conclude that Eritrea is persecuting the Afar and that this persecution is a crime against humanity. COI Report Paragraph 295-6 , the report states:
“Eritrean officials have intentionally and severely deprived Eritrean Kunama and Afar of fundamental rights contrary to international law on ethnic grounds”.
In June 5, 2015- report A/HRC/29/CRP.1 to Human Rights Council, the COI states Paragraphs 1157- 1171
“Land traditionally belonging to or used by the Afars was seized in the framework of the
Land reform and afterwards by decision of the Government, without consultation of the impacted communities;
The killing of members of the Afar ethnic group and reports of existence of Mass-graves… have also triggered their displacement from their lands within the country and across borders to Ethiopia and Djibouti. This has posed great difficulty to their livelihoods as they depend on their traditional lands for the sustenance as an indigenous ethnic group,” (Para 1120b).
Most recently, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs release an appeal to tackle famine in many countries in the horn of Africa, including this realise by the government of the Netherlands. Eritrea continues to deny existence of drought and famine in the country.
International community needs to do more by urgently addressing the existential threat to Afar indigenous identity in Eritrea and hold the government responsible for crimes against humanity. A Duty to protect is not only vested interest for Afar safety but also international obligation for regional peace and economic growth as well as preventative majors against the scrooge of terrorism and radicalization in Eritrea.