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UNHCR protests deportation of Eritreans

Briefing Notes, 27 August 1999

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 27 August 1999, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR registered a strong protest with the Government of Malawi after an Eritrean asylum seeker was killed this week and 24 others were subsequently deported to Ethiopia from Lilongwe

The group arrived in Malawi from Ethiopia on 14 August and were returned by air one week later. Despite several interventions by UNHCR, staff were not granted access to the Eritreans in order to hear their case. Authorities stated that it was an immigration issue as the group had entered the country illegally with fake visas.

Alerted to their imminent deportation, the Eritreans staged a protest at a detention centre on August 20 during which one of them was killed and several others reportedly wounded.

In a Note Verbale to the Government UNHCR recalled the requirement to review such cases on merit, regardless of how an asylum seeker enters a country, as well as the present tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea. UNHCR is now following up on the case in Addis Ababa.

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