To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they and neighbouring states are making in stemming the exodus of people from Eritrea; and what plans they have to secure the release of the reported large numbers of persons imprisoned for religious reasons.
13 February 2017
There has been a reduction in the number of Eritrean nationals seeking asylum in the UK. Between January-September 2016, the number was 796, a 68% decline in applications compared with the same period in 2015 when the figure was 2807. There has also been a fall of about 50% in the number of Eritreans arriving in Italy.
Tackling illegal migration to the EU from the Horn of Africa is a priority. The UK is engaging on this bilaterally, and in collaboration with international partners within the frameworks of the Khartoum Process and the EU Trust Fund. In addition, the UK is working to address the underlying causes of migration from Eritrea, including by supporting projects to promote professional development and employment opportunities to young Eritreans, and a programme to enhance judicial capacity and promote the rule of law.
Within Eritrea, only four traditional religious organisations (Orthodox Christian, Sunni Muslim, Catholic, and the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Eritrea) have official approval to operate. We are aware of reports that a number of individuals from non-sanctioned religions remain in detention, including 54 Jehovah's Witnesses, although reliable information is very difficult to obtain. Details of their detention have not been publicly released by the Eritrean government. Our Ambassador and EU counterparts have called for the release of all prisoners detained for religious beliefs or, as a minimum, that they are brought before a court for public hearing and fair trial, allowing them to defend themselves against any charge. We continue to press the government of Eritrea for specific details of their detention and health status.