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Press Release – 30 March 2007: Leaders and Representatives of Various Eritrean Community Leaders in the UK met with British Government Officials

posted 29 Jan 2012, 05:47 by D Woldeab   [ updated 29 Jan 2012, 05:55 ]

On 26 March 2007, representatives of several Eritrean community organisations in the UK met with officials from the British government to discuss the government’s policy with respect to the border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia and the adverse impact it is having on the people of the region. The meeting was organised by the Action Group for Eritrea (AGE), and the delegation included representatives from the Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox, Wengielawit Lutheran faiths and organisations such as the Alliance of Eritrean Evangelicals, the Eritrean Youth Association, and the Eritrean Relief Association were also represented. The British government was represented by civil servants from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development which included senior Officials and the new deputy Ambassador to Eritrea.

The representatives made a strong representation on behalf of the British Eritrean community in calling the British government to use its influence to urge Ethiopia to accept unconditionally the decision of the Boundary Commission. Noting that it is now 5 years since the verdict of the Boundary commission was announced, representatives of the community put a strong case to show that it is unfair and unjust to leave the people of Eritrea in suspense for so long. Representatives of the Community in unison requested for the British government to play a positive role to bring the conflict to an end.

Representatives of the Community also pointed out that the British government’s intention to scale up the financial donations given to Ethiopia through a new programme by a significant amount without addressing the fundamental issues of peace and security is of a great concern to the community. It was made clear that it is such unconditional financial and political support that has encouraged Ethiopia to defy a court ruling and continue with its intransigence.

In the statement read at the meeting, representative of the Action Group for Eritrea highlighted the historical injustices that Eritrea and Eritreans have been subjected to and indicated how the British government’s policy is presently contributing to the instability of the region and the prolonging of the suffering of the Eritrean people. Furthermore, the representatives conveyed their concern on the way in which Ethiopia is producing unscrupulous and fabricated stories to link Eritrea with terrorism in order to justify aggression under the banner of war-on-terror. Representatives of the community, having highlighted their grievances, urged the British government to ‘advance an ethical policy with equitable justice at its core’ to prevent bloodshed in the region.

Representatives of the community were able to engage in discussions relating to human rights, immigration and democracy raised by representatives of the government with honesty and humility. Other issues such as humanitarian aid given to Eritrea and the visa service in Eritrea were also discussed.

The British government officials responded to the concerns of the community positively and promised to consider some of the issues with their colleagues. They said the meeting was helpful and would like to meet with the community in the future.

It is to be remembered that members of the AGE and friends had held similar meeting at the House of Lords recently.

AGE would like to thank the Eritrean community and faith organisations in the UK for participating and showing such solidarity in this common national interest. It is gratifying to see such a community spirit and show of unity of purpose and solidarity with the people of Eritrea. It reaffirms that the community stands united when it comes to the border conflict and the integrity of the nation. We apologise to those who had shown interest, but could not participate due to the limitations on numbers imposed by the hosts.

AGE is a non-profit, impartial, non-partisan, civic organisation with a purpose to promote the social, cultural and economic development of Eritrea while working for the unconditional implementation of the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) ruling.