Eritrean Asylum Seekers in Israel Protest the EU: Help Our Brothers Trapped in Libya

'Without your help, our brothers face torture, disease and death' in Libya, Eritreans tell EU ambassador in a letter and protest in front of the delegation's offices in Israel

Eritrean asylum seekers protest in front of the European Union delegation in Ramat Gan, Israel, October 11, 2018.
Sigal Rozen

Dozens of asylum seekers living in Israel demonstrated Thursday in front of the European Union delegation in the central city of Ramat Gan to demand the EU assist their countrymen in Libya.  

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced earlier this week that Israel is continuing to search for ways to expel asylum seekers from Eritrea, but these protesters were focused on the plight of Eritreans elsewhere. They carried signs saying: "Stop the suffering of the refugees in Libya", "Save our brothers" and "Stop torture in Libya."

"We, the Eritrean asylum seeker community in Israel, arrived your office today, pleading you to do whatever in your power to assist our people who are trapped in Libya," Emmanuel Yamana, a leading voice in the Eritrean community in Israel wrote to the EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret.

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"The 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol mandate that those fleeing persecution deserve international protection. Because Libya has proven itself incapable of protecting the safety of the migrants and refugees inside its borders, we feel that it is the responsibility of the international community to intervene. Without your help, our brothers face torture, disease and death," he wrote in his letter.

The letter continued: "There are about 8,000 asylum seekers from Eritrea and other Sub-Saharan African countries currently trapped in Libya. They include refugees, migrants and trafficking victims, among them thousands of women and children. They find themselves caught in the crossfire among warring militias in a lawless country as security has rapidly deteriorated across Libya. Credible reports from Libyan and international sources show that militias and traffickers torture and sexually abuse even women and children. Deaths have become commonplace in makeshift jails and detention centers in Tripoli because of inadequate food, water and basic sanitation. Their only way out of these prisons is to die of disease, be shot or become enslaved by militias or traffickers."

The asylum seekers asked the ambassador to do everything in his power to rescue the refugees and migrants in Libya and find them a safe haven within the European Union or any other country that would have them.