Babies Born to Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia are being Denied Birth Certificates

Babies born to Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia are being denied birth certificates, their families have told the BBC.

They say the Ethiopian refugee authorities stopped the service about 18 months ago during the war in Tigray, which came to an end last November.

The northern region, which borders Eritrea, hosted several refugee camps and Eritrean refugees were victimised by all sides in the brutal conflict.

Many fled to the capital, Addis Ababa, to continue the long and cumbersome task of organising visas to join family members living abroad.

But the lack of crucial documentation for new-borns has meant that families expecting to reunite remain split.

One man, who lives in Germany, has been waiting desperately to bring his wife and children to live with him.

He has been able to visit them in Ethiopia over the last few years, but he wants them to be all under one roof.

“They told us: ‘Higher officials ordered us not to provide the documents.’ But they refuse to tell us who exactly made that decision,” he told the BBC about his birth certificate frustrations.

“Our wives and new babies are left in limbo,” he said.

His older children have now been granted visas and have had to travel to Germany before they expire – without their mother and youngest sibling.

“My children were separated from their father, some for more than 10 years, and now they are separated from their mother,” he laments.

Mothers who wait with their new-borns often find their own documentation expires.

“My wife was told she could travel without her babies, which is a cruel choice to make,” another Eritrean man in Germany told the BBC.

The Eritrean families are appealing to the Ethiopian authorities to end their ordeal.

The Ethiopian Refugee and Returnees Services (RRS), the agency which is supposed to issue the birth certificates, has not responded to BBC requests for comment.

According to the UN refugee agency, more than 157,000 Eritrean refugees are in Ethiopia – most fleeing political persecution and forced conscription.

Source: BBC


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