globalpost.com, Eritrean dies in refugee riots after Lampedusa vigil
An Eritrean in a refugee camp in Ethiopia died when demonstrations calling for resettlement turned violent, the UN said Tuesday, following a vigil for hundreds of compatriots who drowned trying to reach Europe.
“We got reports of one person killed — one refugee — and six refugees injured,” Kisut Gebre Egziabher, spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), told AFP.
The riots, which erupted Saturday in two camps near the Eritrean border and continued for three days, were staged by refugees calling for resettlement after a shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa in which more than 300 asylum-seekers are feared dead, mainly from Eritrea and Somalia.
Refugees in the Ethiopia camps staged a demonstration after people gathered to hold a candlelight vigil in memory of those who died.
“They were saying that they need resettlement, that the entire camp population should be sent to some Western countries,” Kisut said.
“They were saying, ‘we don’t have opportunities, people are moving out of the camp illegally.'”
Ethiopia’s refugee agency said the victim of the riots was killed after he tried to steal a gun from a policeman.
Kisut said there were reports that some of the victims of the boat tragedy had previously lived in the Ethiopian refugees camps, but he could not confirm how many or when they may have left.
There are about 77,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia.
The UN estimates as many as 3,000 Eritreans flood into Sudan and Ethiopia every month, from a country of some five million people and about the size of England.
Many are running from open-ended military conscription imposed by the isolated government of the Red Sea state.