19 February 2013

Uganda: Eritrean Footballers Granted Refugee Status in Uganda

Uganda announced yesterday (February 18th) that it was granting asylum to the 15 players from the Eritrean football team and the team doctor who stayed in Uganda and asked for refuge in December during the 2012 Cecafa Tusker Senior Challenge Cup.

The Ugandan Commissioner for Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister said that the Refugee Eligibility Committee had found the group's claims valid and granted them refugee status. The Eritrean team were eliminated in the early stages of the competition after drawing with Zanzibar 0-0 and losing to Malawi and Rwanda. Only three of the 18-strong team and officials opted to return to Asmara.

According to reports from Uganda, the players refused to return because they feared being conscripted into endless military training. Thirteen players from the Eritrean team also defected two years earlier at the 2010 Cecafa tournament in Tanzania.

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