Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mozambique: Mozambique should stop deporting asylum-seekers

Ethiopians rest under a tree in Mozambique after walking from the coast on their way south earlier this year

UN - The United Nations refugee agency today called on Mozambique to stop deporting Somali and Ethiopian asylum-seekers.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Melissa Fleming told journalists that Mozambique had on Tuesday sent to Tanzania some 59 Somalis and 34 Ethiopians who had earlier arrived by boat in northern Mozambique and were being assisted by the agency.

“Most were young men but among them were a woman, four children, and three elderly men. Many were suffering medically as a result of their journey,” Ms Fleming said.

“UNHCR staff who met the group were unaware that they were to be deported,” she added.

“UNHCR has written to the Government of Mozambique reminding it of its obligations under the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugee and the 1969 Organization of African Unity Refugee Convention. UNHCR calls on Mozambique authorities to stop deporting asylum-seekers.”

Ms. Fleming said the agency had received reports that other asylum-seekers had “suffered brutality by police and border officials” and that some had not been deported to official Tanzania border posts but instead left, stripped of clothing and belongings at deserted islands along the border.

Others had their cell phones and shoes confiscated to deter them from returning to Mozambique, according to similar reports, she said.

The refugee agency last month condemned the shooting by Mozambican police of four Somali asylum-seekers and called on authorities to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

The agency said that between January 2010 and this month some 7,450 Somali and Ethiopian asylum-seekers arrived at its Maratane refugee camp in Mozambique.