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By Godfrey Olukya    15-5-2013

Authorities in Eritrea have been accused of human rights abuse by UN special rapporteur, Sheila Keetharuth.

The abuse of human rights in that country has reportedly led to flight of many people to neighboring countries especially Ethiopia and Djibouti.

In a statement issued today, Keetharuth called on the international community to keep Eritrea under close scrutiny until meaningful change in observing human rights is evident in the country.

She said, ‘Blatant disrespect for human rights in Eritrea is unacceptable.’

Keetharuth has for the last ten days been in  Ethiopia and Djibouti to collect first-hand information directly from Eritrean refugees on the human rights situation in their country.

‘Real change would require a fundamental reform process transforming the current culture of rights denial with one anchored in the rule of law, respect for and realization of all human rights and human dignity.’ she said.

She warned that the high numbers of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia and Djibouti is indicative of the serious human rights violations in Eritrea, pushing people to take the difficult decision to leave their families and homes behind for an unknown future.

She commended efforts by Ethiopia and Djibouti to host the large Eritrean refugee communities. She however said she was concerned about the big number of Eritrean refugees which is of about 50,000 people.

She showed sympathy to the big number of unaccompanied children refugees. She said, ‘I am particularly concerned about the increasing number of unaccompanied children crossing the border without the knowledge of their families. Children regularly mentioned dysfunctional family circumstances due to the long absence of the father, most of the time because of conscription, lack of educational opportunities and the fear of forced conscription into indefinite national service as major reasons for their decisions to flee.’
All her findings which include interviews with refugees, will be reflected in her first report to the Human Rights Council in June 2013.

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