6 December 2012

Uganda/Eritrea: Eritrea's Football Team Seek Asylum in Uganda, Citing Persecution

Photo: Steven Depolo/Flickr
The incident in Kampala was the third time the Eritrean football team had disappeared in an African state to claim asylum.

Kampala — 18 members of the Eritrean national football team are to apply for political asylum in Uganda, after turning up at a ministry in Kampala, two days after they went missing.

The men disappeared from their hotel after participating in the ongoing CECAFA tournament in Kampala.

The Red Sea boys turned up in the office of Uganda's minister for relief and disaster preparedness on Wednesday, two days after they were reported missing.

They have told the minister, Musa Echweru, that they cannot return to Asmara, citing fears of persecution if they do.

He said their applications for asylum will be assessed and that his ministry is working with the UNCHR to ensure that the assessment process is transparent.

"We are treating them now as asylum seekers, until we process them, they will be in our safe protection" he noted.

"I have also gotten in touch with ministry of foreign affairs so that the parties that must know about this development are informed" he added.

Seven members of the Eritrean team including two players, the goal keeper, the coach , assistant coach and trainers returned to Asmara on Tuesday after losing 2-0 to Rwanda in their last CECAFA game.

In 2009,12 Eritrean players disappeared in Kenya while last year 13 players sought asylum in Tanzania during an international match.

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