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UNHCR concerned about reports of refugees returned to Ethiopia from Djibouti

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UNHCR concerned about reports of refugees returned to Ethiopia from Djibouti

7 June 2021
Uganda. SGBV survivor empowers women
Congolese refugee Bahati (left) speaks with two of her group members as they inspect a new fishpond in Kyangwali refugee settlement, Uganda.

NAIROBI, Kenya  - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is concerned about reports that three individuals, two of whom are recognized Ethiopian refugees in Djibouti were returned against their will to Addis Ababa last week. Upon learning of this action UNHCR immediately approached the Djiboutian authorities to raise its concerns about this breach of international law, and about the safety and security of the individuals.

Asylum-seekers and refugees, no matter where they are or where they are from, should never be returned to a situation in which they could face serious harm, such as persecution, torture or inhumane or degrading treatment.  

“Djibouti has been an exemplary host to refugees in many ways, so it is disappointing to learn of these developments. We call upon the Djibouti authorities to uphold their international obligations in relation to asylum,” said Clementine Nkweta-Salami, UNHCR’s Regional Director for the East, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes. 

People in need of international protection must not be returned to a place where their lives or freedom may be at risk in accordance with the principle of non-refoulement. This principle is a cornerstone of international refugee law and is binding on all states.  

There are currently over 12,000 Ethiopian refugees and asylum-seekers, some 300 of Tigrayan background, registered in Djibouti.  


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