Journalist who fled Eritrea fearing for life, awarded with national accolade for helping other refugees in Oxford
SIXTEEN years ago a journalist fled her home in Eritrea, Africa with her two-year-old daughter, fearing for her life.
She hoped to find safety in America. But Eden Habtemichael never made it to the US and instead found herself coming to the UK in 2001. Completely isolated and unable to speak English, the now 39-year-old found herself crying every day for three months.
Her luck changed when she saw a sign for Asylum Welcome, based in Magdalen Road, and went in to see if she could be helped by the charity.
She has been awarded the Women on the Move Woman of the Year accolade for 2017.
The Rose Hill resident said: “You do not do this for the awards, so I was very surprised to have won this.
“You do it to help the people that are where you were, in this hole where you do not know what you are going to do next.
“Some of the women now call me mom or sister and that is because they do not have any family here.
“You have to help them rebuild a family.”
The national awards are organized by Migrant Organise and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to recognize and celebrate inspirational leadership and contribution from migrant and refugee women to UK society.
As a former client herself Miss Habtemichael understand the needs and difficulties many of the women face when they come to Oxford.
She added: “When I came here I did not know anything, where to go, what to do and I want to make sure no one else feels like that when they come here.
“I remember bringing my daughter to the playground and just sitting there thinking about how we were going to survive.”
As Woman Service Coordinator Miss Habtemichael runs the charity’s Women’s Group which grew from a monthly group to one that meets several times a week.
Currently, 52 women take part in the program which includes English classes, vocational skills, Zumba and music classes and CV workshops.
Kate Hood, director of Refugee Resource, said: “We are extremely proud of Eden, this award recognizes the outstanding leadership she has provided and the progress that she and the members of the women’s group at Refugee Resource have made.”
In her free time, Miss Habtemichael is also co-chairwoman of the Oxford City of Sanctuary, a trustee of East Oxford Community Centre and is one of the directors at Sanctuary Housing, which helps provide temporary accommodation to vulnerable refugees and migrants.
She has also established a friendship group between the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities in Oxford.
In the future, Miss Habtemichael hopes to be able to resume her career as a journalist after she spent seven years reporting on stories in Eritrea.
Her daughter, Segen, now 18, is hoping to study psychology at university in September.
She added: “I am very proud of everything she has achieved.
“That is why I did what I did, so I could have a better life for us both.
“It makes me very sad that she has not grown up in the motherland but my dream is that for one day we will be able to go back home.”
For more information visit: refugeeresource.org.uk
many voices coming from jail, torture, even of the graves because their soul still does not rest in peace, after long suffering from colonies when the revolution fighters in 1991 entered Asmara we were happy because we thought that the long suffer from the Eritrea people has been the end? because Eritrea was the homeland we were looking for, Christians and Muslims both blessed our new homeland everyone was happy.
the dictator regime in Eritrea began working like his imaginary ghosts of Africans tyrants to rule the country by force, he killed many there are more than 35 thousand political prisoners, 22 journalists,15 ministers, for more than 15 years they are in prison without trial and most of them are dead in jail.
Eritrea is beautiful and Eritrea has many places for us and for the foreigners, but the tyrant landlord ghost unfortunate he was thirsty to our blood, even the blessing of Christians and Muslimes does not work, shape of evils and nightmare become reality in Eritrea that is why people have fled Eritrea and many are waiting to get a chance to flee Eritrea to save their own lives because our sweet dream become a nightmare please remember, to be a refuge is not a choice.
I know that the Eritrean people become burdens to the international community like many refugees, but what we can do, and there is nothing we can do the only way is to escape from the mouth of the bloodsucker tyrant and it is one of our basic rights to search for the protection and it the right to all mankind and it is an obligation because we love life, freedom, dignity, and liberty. therefore we hate to be refugees because everywhere you go do not forget that there is no land there like your homeland.
I would like to express my anger because it is growing inside me every day, also to blame this institution because I believe that every state has to follow the 1951 refugees recommendation, no state’s interest in the international conventions, and I believe that justice is one and that justice must be for all, because the racism and discrimination we face is disturbing. the seed of the Nazi Hitler and Fascist Mussolini are growing by different names “Peggyda” between right-wing extremist, currents and new in the the group known as “hooligans” those led Europe to ruin. the history never forgives to anyone, therefore I do not believe the civilized people of EU will give them a chance to repeat their ugly history and their stupidity again. they will lose just like their fathers Hitler and Mussolini. also, I believe the civilize and good people of EU will throw them to the rubbish again because the right place to them is Garbages. The politician’s of the son”s of Hitler and Mussolini feed racism and xenophobia they feed the growing hatred between EU citizens and refugees and migrants the racism will cause great harm to the Europian union, so, who will take the responsibility of this ruin? which is a destruction and an unprecedented challenge to the human rights of refugees and migrants and their life in dignity.
western countries are in the name of democracy interfering in many countries and helping the tyrant in Eritrea and many tyrants in the name of humanitarian. therefore the greed system caused many types of blood and many damages, and many people are fleeing their countries and the blood of innocent victims are running like a river in the everywhere corner inside the third world, now the evils of the new world order are crying of their ugly mistakes and greed.
in accordance with the constitution law in EU and we believe justice for all please check what is written in the EU constitution and we do not believe that is available on papers only for decoration.
the siege of refugees by means of the racist Dublin regulation II, III in the lawlessness hell Italy is the risk of death, attention how many homeless refugees in this moment are sleeping in the street under this cold weather, I think it is clear about the suffering of the besieged refugees. and health situation of refugees in Italy is compounded because of the blockade, of the racist Dublin Wall. most of the refugees live in the buildings that have not yet completed construction or in dirty Abandoned Houses. Acute shortages of food and basic necessities. I can describe the situation of refugees in Italy catastrophic thread more serious and dangerous, in the light of the lack of warning from international organizations to follow up on this humanitarian issue is very sensitive, it means a green light to the lawless Italy, for to be more lawlessness. do not forget that Italy is one of the member states of the great EU, and it is very funny. at the same time, it is too rude to EU
to discover the truth by yourself, please watch this documentary. I was the actor of this film, because of my activities and peaceful fight for my rights the Italian government decided to revoke my status of refugees.
PETITION TO THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT
STOP DEPORTING ERITREAN REFUGEES TO RWANDA AND UGANDA
WE CALL ON ISRAEL TO RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF THE ERITREAN REFUGEES
Eritrea is a closed state, dubbed the North Korea of Africa, is driving the country into complete isolation. With thousands of political prisoners, severe cases of torture, and the vast majority of the population being subject to forced military conscription and labor for an indefinite period of time, Eritrea has become one of the top refugee producing countries. From those fleeing, many are falling victim of the global human trafficking and organ trade, often with the active involvement of Eritrea’s military officials.
Young Eritreans trying to escape the country’s mandatory and indefinite national service program, go through the Sinai desert and seek refuge in Israel. Over 35,000 Eritreans are denied asylum status rights according to the UN Refugee Convention and are being held in an immigration detention camp in the Negev Desert called Holot. They are given three options, 1. stay indefinitely in the camp, 2. go back to Eritrea, the country they had fled from, or 3. they could agree to take $3,500 and depart secretly for a third country, namely Uganda and Rwanda, and this is against international law.
Those arriving in Uganda or Rwanda are not afforded any further rights because they weren’t coming from a war zone, but from a “safe” country that had promised under international law to uphold the rights of refugees.
They are given $3,500 , a travel document and a single-entry visa to Rwanda or Uganda, both issued in Israel – were immediately confiscated at Kigali or Entebbe airport. Once they arrive, they become victims of human trafficking.
Eritreans running away from the brutal dictatorship and headed to Israel risking their lives by crossing the Sinai desert seeking refuge in Israel, but what they are going through is a nightmare.
Just a reminder to the Israeli government and people, the Eritrean people in their humble history have the tradition to stand with the truth. Eritreans believed in the Israeli homeland, and to attest that we will mention the following history.
During the struggle of Israelis for their homeland the late prime minister Shamir was in Eritrea in the late forties. the British soldiers were trying to arrest him. Our fathers did not allow that to happen and were able to keep Mr.Shamir in hiding and then leave the country safely. We always believe that Israelis as our brothers.
We are pleading with the Israel government, people of Israel, to understand our plight and suffering our Eritrean people are going through. All of these shall pass one day and we will remember our friends that gave us shelter when we needed them.
The State of Israel was one of the first to sign the Refugee Convention. If the State of Israel does not intend to respect the refugee convention, transfer the treatment of our asylum requests to the UNHCR.
We are Eritreans living and have citizenship in the following countries.
USA, European Union, Australia and Eritreans in all African countries are demanding from the Israeli government:
- Should abide by the UN Refugee Convention that Israel is a signatory.
- Give their cases to the UNHCR
- Release the Eritrean refugees from the detention camp “Holot” which is similar to a concentration camp.
- Stop deporting Eritrean refugees to Rwanda and Uganda illegally.
If the Israel government keeps mistreating the Eritrean and African refugees…
- We will hold demonstrations outside Israel Embassies in the USA and worldwide until our demands are met.
- We will involve the Pan-African Movements in the USA and World Wide.
- We will educate all but especially the black people in Africa and African American in the USA of all the discrimination of our fellow Eritreans and Africans throughout Israel.
“Do not oppress the stranger, for you know the soul of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9)
ALL ERITREANS IN THE DIASPORA and Black People Worldwide STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE ERITREANS REFUGEES IN ISRAEL.
UN expert panel cites crimes against humanity committed by Eritrean authorities dating back 25 years
28 October 2016 – Eritrean officials have committed crimes against humanity since 1991, including enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder, a member of the former United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the country reported to UN Member States.
“My plea to you […] is for you to pay heed to voices of victims of crimes against humanity in Eritrea,” said Sheila Keetharuth, presenting the panel’s final report to the UN General Assembly’s main body dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues (Third Committee).
The three-member Commission, established by the UN Human Rights Council, ended its mandate in June 2016.
Ms. Keetharuth highlighted the Commission’s clear findings that crimes against humanity have been committed since 1991 by Eritrean officials, adding that such a dire assessment left no room for “business as usual” in the international community’s engagement with the Government of Eritrea.
“The crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder have been committed as part of a widespread and systematic campaign against the civilian population,” she said. “The aim of the campaign has been to maintain control over the population and perpetuate the leadership’s rule in Eritrea.”
She explained that the Commission has concluded the Government of Eritrea has neither the political will nor the institutional capacity to prosecute the crimes documented, and therefore recommends that the UN Security Council refer the situation in Eritrea to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and that the African Union establish an accountability mechanism.“There is still no constitution, no parliament where laws are discussed, enacted, and where questions of national importance are debated; indefinite national service persists, with its adverse impacts on individual rights; there is no free press and no [non-governmental organizations], except for Government-sponsored ones,” she said.
“The population lives in fear and the Government still controls their daily life, making the enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all Eritreans a remote possibility,” she added.
She noted that while several foreign delegations, journalists and others had been invited to visit Eritrea over the past year, the rampant human rights violations taking place in isolated locations and detention facilities were not apparent to the casual visitor.
Ms. Keetharuth noted that Eritreans were among the largest numbers of African nationals seeking asylum in Europe and that the overall recognition rate for Eritrean asylum seekers in European countries remained high.
“The findings of the Commission underscore that it is not safe to forcibly return those who have left Eritrea,” she stressed, noting that the Commission’s first report documented that individuals forcibly repatriated, with a few exceptions, have been arrested, detained and subjected to ill-treatment and torture.
“I appeal to Member States to grant Eritreans access to their territory and asylum procedures,” she said, reiterating her call to protect all Eritrean asylum-seekers from refoulement and to refrain from any forced repatriation to Eritrea or to third countries where they may still be at risk or unwelcomed.
Ms. Keetharuth is also UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue
እዛ ጥልያናዊት ምስክነይቲ ሰበይቲ ስደተግኛታት ኣብ”ዕድና በዚሖም ደቂ ሃገር ብዘይ ስራሕ ኮፍ ኢሎም ኩሎም ስደተኛታት ድማ ናብ”ዓዶም ክንመልሶም ኣለና ትብል ኣላ። ንሳ ግን ኣብ”ዓለምና እንታይ ይግበር ኣሎን፣ እዞም ስደተኛታት ስለ”ምንታይ ሃገሮም ገዲፎም ይስደዱ ከም”ዘለዉ ኣፍልጦ ስለ”ዘይብላ ብዙሕ መብርህታት ከድልያ”ዩ። እዚ”ድማ እቲ ፖሎቲካ ኪናት ኣብ”ምንጎ ድኻታት ብ”ናይ”ኣቶ ሳልቪኒ ዝካየድ ዘሎ ጽቡቕ ይሰርሕ ኣሎ። ኣነ ግን ን”ኣቶ ሳልቪኒ ክብሎ ደልየ ዘለኹ እቲ ኣብ”መንጎ ድኻታት ዝፈጠርካዮ ኪናት ስርሑ ጀሚሩ። እዚ ድማ ዘሕጉሰካ እንተኮይኑ ኣቶ ሳልቪኒ ኣገናዕ ምኽንያቱ ተዓዊትካ ኣለኻ።
Honest woman does not know what’s going on in our world, even she does not know What is The Difference Between Refugees and Immigrants. I think this woman needs an explanation why Refugees are fleeing their homeland ? Even Immigrants.
Because she does not know anything, and the propaganda of Mr Salvini is working well.
I would like to tell you Mr Salvini, and your war between the poor started.
if this makes you happy congratulation because you won.
La Povertà non sa cosa sta succedendo nel Nostro Mondo, Anche lei non sa Cosa è La Differenza Tra i Rifugiati e Gli Immigrati. Quello che penso E che Questa donna ha bisogno di una spiegazione, Perché i Rifugiati Stanno fuggendo dal Loro Bella Terra? Anche Gli Immigrati. perché lei non sa nulla, e la politica di Salvini sta lavorando bene.
e vorrei dirvi a Salvini, e il tua guerra tra il poveri avviata.
se questo ti rende felice congratulazione perché hai vinto.