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The Conditions of Eritrean Refugees and POWs In Djibouti

Last week, Eritrean journalist Mohammed Taha Tewekel was in Djibouti to press Djiboutian authorities to improve the living conditions of Eritrean detainees, prisoners of war (POWs) and refugees.

Djiboutian authorities declared that they have dealt with more than 500 Eritreans who were members of the Eritrean military. Out of those, 235 have already been settled in third countries such as Canada, USA and Europe; Djibouti is working on the files of the remaining persons to have them settled in third countries. Djibouti also calls on the international community to pressure Eritrea to disclose the whereabouts of Djiboutian detainees, POWs of the border battle between Eritrea and Djibouti in April 2008.

According to Tewekel, there are 265 POWs and detainees who escaped from the military service in Eritrea and are now housed in the Police Academy detention center. According to him, the Eritreans are held in three centers.

tewekel1The first group is composed of 19 Eritrean POWs captured during the border conflict with Eritrea. One of them is suffering from mental sickness. The POWs have asked for a special room for him; Colonel Abdellah promised to arrange that.

The second group is composed of 90 detainees who are housed on the same location but separated from the POWs by a wall, while the third group is composed of 156 detainees who are housed in a camp about 1.5 kms away from the rest.

The living conditions in the camps is difficult in temperature that reaches 40 centigrade.

In his visit to the detention centers, Tewekel accompanied the chief of the Djiboutian police Colonel Abdellah; the detainees said he was the first high ranking official visiting them to see their conditions and listen to their complaints.

The POWs are concerned about their fate and they do not know for how long they will remain in detention or where they will go. They complained from lack of air conditioning, medication, and doctor’s visits. They also complained for not being allowed to sleep in the open to avoid the heat inside the rooms.

Colonel Abdellah gave them the choice to return to Eritrea through the International Red Cross (IRC) if they so wished or wait to be settled in third countries. He said that Djibouti was talking to concerned parties such as the IRC which is responsible for the POWs. He also informed them that he will see to it that the rooms are air-conditioned and they are allowed to sleep in the open. As for medication, he said that it is the responsibility of the IRC.

The third group is in better condition but they wanted to know whether they were considered refugees or prisoners and why they are not housed together with the refugees because some of them are separated from their wives.

Colonel Abdella said they were refugees and soldiers but not POWs, and that they were separated from the rest of the refugees for extraordinary reasons due to the conflict with Eritrea, “but we deal with you as brethren.” Tewekel stated that in Eritrea, the entire population is militarized and the only civilian is Isaias Afwerki.

Colonel Abdellah promised to transfer the five civilians to the civilian camp.

According to Colonel Abdellah, Djibouti pays the accommodation expenses for the refugees and the detained.

Tewekel appeals to the Eritrean Diaspora to support the Eritreans detainees and refugees in Djibouti.

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  • Miab Mohammed Taha Tewekel

    Good job dad, hopefully people love you for what you do, because your making a lot of people happy.

  • NOur

    Good job mr tewekul

  • Brhane Demsas

    In the 21st century where every advanced human beings are succinctly aware of the benefits of democratic rules ,to witness the flagrant and appaling hegemony juggernaut driven by the insane issayas PFDJ mob is a somber experiance.somewhat characteristically similar to the NAZI’s attrocities inflicted on south western Africa nowadays Namibia ,perpetrared under a pretext of human heredity and gene hygene, a blind psudo-science called eugenics ,currently the crimes aganist humanity is ongoing in the soil of eritrea for the sole purpose of prolonging the opressive life of reign for the eritrean government.those who are devoured by the beast are nowhere to be found.those remained are trying with all costs to save themselves by fleeing out .in djibouti there are anout 300 eritreans in maximum security prisons helplessly awaiting for any soluution.half of them are are outcrying to be transferred to Ethiopia.the international cimmunity should di something esoecially Eritreans.

  • Hassan Naib

    Good job Mohammed Tawakel, if the people of Eritrea was forgotten by their Government they should not be forgotten by their sons and brothers who can have chances to do something for their people and Mr Tawakel is one of them. I know Tawakel when he was in Hergigo school, he was trying to do small things in helping his neighbours and colleagues. Immediately after the independent of Eritrea I met Mohammed in Asmara in Amina Nur Hussein office (Minister of The Social Affairs at that time) he was having a big humanitarian project for the children and for the needy people,he was trying to explain her the benefits of the project to the needy, but his project was declined and refused by the enemy of the Eritrean People (Its Government) by saying we will do it (Balena)ourselves and the project was transferred to another African country. Thank you Mohammed in the name of the Eritrean People, do what you can do for your people atleast few will remain alive especially at Danakel Area in which the mortality rate reached unacceptable situations (Wa Allah Yahfazaq Wa Yaraaq)

  • suleiman sidiq

    I think that Mr. Mohamed Taha Tawakal deserves praise for his great job .

  • Zahra


    Have you ever heard that empires disintegrated into smaller states due to lack of commonality and for a better treatment of their state-people. And, some empires designed a fair system in order to avoid disintegration, for example: Ethiopia. Conversely, some states and not empires disintegrated due to lack of fair and equal treatment. Because some Eritreans are aware of such situations, they are reading and noticing risk of disintegrations in Eritrea. If you are not awaked by some disintegrating calls (Danakils, Kunamas, Bejas that includes Ansebas of Hamasien, etc.), because of harsh treatment of the people, the rule of Isayas is making its way back to part of Karneshim and Bahr Alhmer (Keih Bahri) only – and, don’t forget Asmara too is gone, I mean disintegrated, going regroup with those disintegrating. If you are the person I know Lebam Teibai (L.T.), you have the right to remain silent as a Lebam to save Eritrea and not be a denier, denying what is going on.

    • L.T

      W/ro Zahra;
      Afar(not from Eritrea but fm kilil 2 Afar Ethiopia)Kunam fm Tigria and Saho fm Irob Tigria )started the group about 15 yreas ago.In Eritrea it’s quite good and it’not that much bother really.If a person begins to be a problem pretty soon the person must go.weyane method is simple enough to be taught by the teachers he has taught.

  • L.T

    Most people in Djibouti are Afar and you don’t have to be a Afar Eritrea in their society.I hope this makes you feel a bit.

  • sara

    what mission? whose mission? is there something you know and he didnt report it here, let us know if any!

  • Zahra

    Mohd. Taha Twekel of Gulf Information Center has good relationship with Amir of Qatar. If Gulf Information Center could convince the Amir, at least some funds would be made immediately available to be spent on wellbeing of the prisoners. The Eritrean Diaspora may then step in with its level of help.

    Thanks Twekel for the successful mission.

    • L.T

      I don’t know you heard of the problems you had with people in Ethiopia?And can hardly control them!We Eritreans not doing to bad but it’s a battle.Pls don’t worry about Eritrean and we might find an old amplifier for you.You Weyane are a sensitive guys so we understand.You’re not stupid.Your bad wishes are no land,no boundaries.

      • Zahra here we are again no land no boundaries. Waht do you mean no by no land no boundary. Regardless what wayane thinks. We have a land amd we have a boundry,and it is well known by the world stamdard. Beside, Wayane being sensiteve or no who cares. You better think twice. What do you mean when you say we are not doing bad. Do you know how many our Eritran brothers and sisters in the wayane camp. How many brothers and sisters dying in the in the traffickers hand and dying in the Meditranian Sea. If you think we Eritreans not doing bad. Then what is bad. However, this shall pass and we hope we will do better by Gods will. Neshalah!