Geneva — Madam Chair and Honorable Delegates
My delegation congratulates Madam Chair for your election as chair of the 68th EXCOM session and assures support to your leadership. Our tribute also goes to the High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi for his leadership of the
UNHCR. Eritrea also aligns itself with the statement made by the African Group and makes this statement at its national capacity.
Eritrea reiterates its position on the New York Declaration and the plea and drive made for collective response and responsibility. The essence underscores a dire situation in the migration and refugee governance in a global reality. It reflects the inequitable international situation and the protracted effort of inciting crisis and crisis management to serve geopolitical agendas of the New World Order. In this regard, the use of cases of migrants, IDPs and refugees as a political tool to vilify, isolate and destabilize targeted nations is unprecedented. Global peace, security and development remains threatened creating waves of displacement, migration and refuge.
Eritrea's experience in the last two decades is symbolic of the above precarious reality. Eritrea is faced with external existential threats and hostilities. Sovereign Eritrean territories continue to be occupied by Ethiopia, it faces unjust UN sanctions and the futile intents to destabilize the nation also persist. Displacement and migration embedded in human trafficking business is a result of these hostilities. The coordinated effort to lure the Eritrean youth and create a generation gap in the society remains the wrong policy pursued by some quarters and serves as a pull factor.
Some western countries, Ethiopia and some international organizations are complicit in this ploy. Anti-Eritrea surrogate groups, who camouflage themselves by the flag of human rights activism are associates of human trafficking networks and operate from inside some western countries. Eritrean migrant camps in Ethiopia also serve as conduit for human trafficking. The present action by an Italian judiciary to prosecute an Eritrean priest (Father Musie Zerai), a nominee to the UNHCR Nonson Award in 2014, is now facing charge for his alleged involvement with human traffickers is a living testimony to the truth. It was against the above background that the President of Eritrea requested the UNSG to commission an independent inquiry to investigate perpetrators and their networks but to no avail. The paradox is that organized migration continues to be used for political motives and the subsequent statements by Ethiopia and others.
Madam Chair and Honorable Delegates
The above complex web of hostilities has not rolled back Eritrea's development. The government, its people and the economy have remained resilient and the nation has emerged stronger. Eritrea's pragmatic development approach driven by the decisive role of its unified people has registered progress and peace and stability prevails. Peoples' livelihood, aspirations, opportunities and responsible participation has ensured equal right and improved the life of all citizens. Eritrea's policy and praxis in migration governance has also yielded positive results. The good news is that irrespective of the sensationally manipulated numbers meant to tarnish the image of Eritrea, the real number of Eritrean migrants is recently at its lowest.
This vindicates the myths sensationally dramatized to tarnish the image of Eritrea It can never be forgotten that the Special Rapporteur of Human Rights on Eritrea in her report five years ago shamelessly asserted that "with the high level exodus from Eritrea, there will be no one left behind in the country in the next few years and the western countries need to act now to avert a situation where their streets will be threatened by the situation." This like many other similar fabricated assertions and reports raise the urgent need to scrutinize the mandates, modalities and approaches that serve to demonize nations, governments and their people.
Notwithstanding, the experience we faced as a people and a nation, Eritrea believes that victims of displacement and migration should get support and opportunities with full respect to their human dignity, security and development. The recent negative reaction reflected in the policies of some European countries is, however, an alarm in this respect. In general, addressing the effects of brain drain, repatriation of human capital flights and promotion of voluntary returns are major considerations in migration governance. The mobilization of Diaspora communities and their contribution in the development of their home countries also remains vital.
Madam Chair and Honorable Delegates
Engagement, cooperation and shared responsibility are also central to Eritrea's policy. Accordingly, Eritrea is working to strengthen its cooperation on migration at bilateral, regional and international levels. It has also embarked in a dialogue with the UNHCR. This encompasses issues including the "UNHRC Eligibility Guidelines on Political Asylum Cases of Eritreans" and is based on a document submitted by Eritrea. Initial discussions took place in September 2016 and preparation is ongoing to consolidate this in a way that reflects Eritrea's context and reality.
Finally, my delegation takes note of the High Commissioner's initiative to reform the UNHRC. This is a commendable step and we commit to contribute in any critical effort and consultations that lead to structural transformation. We recommend that Eritrea's experience and situation as reflected in this and other official statements are seriously considered. The fact is that the looming crisis and the politicization of migration as well as the lip service on migration governance compromises the ideals and values of humanity in an emerging global reality.
I Thank You Madam Chair!