Team Eritrea Granted Political Asylum In Uganda

(picture courtesy of BBC) The 15 Eritrean football players who had asked for political asylum in Uganda in December following their losing match to Rwanda have been granted political asylum, according to BBC.

Of the 15 (including the team doctor) who were granted asylum, 2 returned to Eritrea, adds the report.

This is the latest in a series of defections that have rocked Eritrean sports.

Since 2006, the “Red Sea Boys” have been seeking asylum in the countries hosting their matches.  These include Kenya (2006), Tanzania (2007), Angola  (2007), and even Sudan (2009).

Instead of dealing with the underlying causes for the brain drain, the Eritrean regime has tried stop-gap measures which have not worked.  One of the policies which it required to discourage defections is a demand that each athlete post a bond for 100,000 Nackfa, a steep amount in a country where the average monthly salary is about 300 Nackfas.

Still, that has not deterred the athletes from seeking asylum in foreign countries.

Last year, Weynay Ghebresilasie, an athlete who was carrying the Eritrean flag at the 2012 Olympics, sought asylum in the United Kingdom and is now training to run for his host country.

The Eritrean regime has blamed the West for making it easy for asylum-seekers to abandon Eritrea, completely disregarding the fact that it is its own draconian policies that are emptying out the country of its most productive population.
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