Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Oromo Refugees out cry for help amid turmoil in Egypt

by Abdulkadir Gumi

"Amidst the chaos of demonstration and violence in Egypt, I am currently in a secret residence and living in a deep tension, nightmare and do not know where to go to save my life as many other Oromo refugees activist claims that Ethiopian agents can get an opportunity to kill us in cold-blood to violate the right to live in this lawless country"

Oromo proverbs saying, "When two bulls fight, the grass suffers". The grass here is a refugee who have no where to go/stay or speak to, as all humanitarian offices were shut down including UNHCR office at the country where poor, rich and powerful duel for political supremacy and political turmoil is going on . Here the proverb is used to describe two people who were politically motivated citizens/or and leaders whose disputes and divisions end up hurting innocent and powerless people (Refugees).

As witnessed by world Egypt since 25 January 2011, it would be extremely myopic for anyone to imagine that refugees are not vulnerable, the situation that the tension that has rocked Egypt since the demonstration denouncing the legitimacy of the government of Egypt and expressing there grievances. The nationwide series of protest rallies called by opposition ended in violence.

Oromo Refugees and other asylum-seekers in Egypt from different parts of Africa are facing several difficulties and there lives are marked by confusion in Egypt due to sensitive political and security environment. The problems are aggravated by demonstration and political changes that is happening in Egypt this month.

Oromo and other refugees have been living in Egypt for more than two decades because of its stability. The situation is runny while a new wave of conflict in Egypt is changing the political landscape and violence erupts while thousands of Oromo and other refugees are living in Egypt. The fact that ongoing conflict and violence in Egypt will leave refugees in dilemma.

In Egypt a brutal Ethiopia government evicted over 400 Oromo refugees who fled to Egypt to save there lives due to there political reason and many Oromo activist who solely fled for their quest to freedom of expression and speaking against the human rights abuses of the government. The Ethiopian government assigned secret security agents to each Oromo political activist, denying them their right to live peacefully. As the result, these refugees are exposed to lack of other basic human rights.

Oromo and other Refugees has no one protect them as there lives are under threat! An Oromo refugee complained…ANG said."Yesterday I received threatening calls from unknown Egyptian men and currently living in fear with my family.I have been threatened by Ethiopian security agents several times and now more than ever they can get an opportunity to kill me in cold-blood and they can get chance to hire evils arms to make abuse and violate human rights in this lawless country.

"we are psychologically traumatized and we had to stay most of the nights awake. We are both just terrified . Some other terrifying experience is that some people approach our house while I am outside; some just came and knocks the door as if they were selling something or asking for something. When we open the door, they just want to burst in this is just terrible".

"Some refugees, usually women and girls, obtain shelter by working as domestics. Usually they work only for room and board; they are vulnerable to sexual and other exploitation. K a twenty-year-old an Oromo refugee woman explained: "I found a job working as a domestic for a Saudi woman. She had four children and no husband. She gave me food and a place to sleep. I worked from five in the morning until midnight every day. I didn't receive any pay, but food and a sleeping place, when the violence started she left to her country and I left without shelter".

An Oromo female refugee complained…"An Egyptian and two Sudanese men have threatened me after shouting to harass me while I was walking in the market place in Maadi yesterday. I escaped after they forced me to stop, a terrifying moment when they pursued me to my living place, after that threat which is targeting my life. I managed to struggle free, so she went round to call my husband for help, as I do not speak Arabic to ask anyone for help, I don´t not feel safe anymore"

In Egypt, people live in Cairo town where shelter is first priority of living, but Finding money to pay rent is a daily struggle for refugees in Cairo. Monthly rent for a room is between U.S. $100 - $200. In Cairo, most refugees live in crowded rectangular rooms in remote area of Ain shams and hadayek Maadi slums.

A refugee WS said… "Three criminals attacked an Oromo refugee in MAADI area today - one of the defenders was wounded by gunshots. Tell the world that UNHCR has shut down, there are refugees starving, Egyptians refuse in some cases to sell them food, some Egyptians are evicting refugee tenants, because they ran out of money, after UNHCR stopped supplying minimal financial assistant"

Refugee´s main goals of refugees are likely to include:

1. Immediate livelihood and basic needs

2. Physical safety from violence, or threat of violence, or intimidation;

3. Reducing economic vulnerability and food insecurity;

4. Finding a place to settle;

5. Locating lost family members;

In Egypt all refugees are worried about there future and lives. Many especially single girls are exposed to harassment, torture, disappearances and threat to there lives. Unaccounted number of refugees lives in almost other countries of Africa and Iraq. Most refugees have been separated from their families for years ago. Most refugees have no education and where there is no enough access to health facilities.

Sleeping at night is a major problem. Some are lucky and find shelter with friends or family but some even fearing there lives, nightmares and cant sleep due to stress and depression.

In Egypt, Oromo refugees are caught up in violence and conflict; they face deep and chronic problems of insecurity and mental problem. In most cases, the forcibly displaced do not have the resources to move beyond there needs, and they remain internally displaced or move across town to socialize with each other, many of which are facing their own conflict especially Oromo with Other enemy ethnic groups from Ethiopia who were loyal to Ethiopian Embassy in Egypt.

In these rough situation Oromo refugees are facing several challenging security problems created by Ethiopian regimes in Egypt with currently appalling situation. However, to view Oromo refugees as passive victims, waiting for nothing but trouble in and outside Ethiopia, Oromo refugees faces multiple problems in many ways in which they pursue with there livelihoods in harsh security consequences in all there movements.

An Oromo activist who is threatened by unknown calls said, "I have been threatened by Ethiopian security agents several times and now more than ever they can get an opportunity to kill me in cold-blood and they can get chance to hire evil armed gangs to make abuse and violate human rights in this lawless country on me soon"

A Refugees men says, "We unable to access to any offices to report on beatings or other harassment faced by individuals. Even local CBOs leaders are experiencing problems due to lawlessness and fear of anger from local community"

To address these challenges refugees the Humanitarian agencies especially UNHCR must recognize this and seek to address the problems that arise from violation of human rights. Providing counseling, urgent medical assistance and immediate financial assistance refugees.

I am asking the international humanitarian organization especially UNHCR and resettlement countries like USA, CANADA and Australia to see into outcry of Oromo refugees in Cairo and there plights

I urge UNHCR headquarter in Geneva to convince international resettlement countries and organizations to intervene to save stateless refugees desperately living in Egypt.


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