Eritrea in focus: MPs to discuss poverty and human rights

9 March 2016 - 7:00am
Press release

Today marks the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eritrea, following months of campaigning by War on Want’s partner, Eritrea Focus.

The APPG on Eritrea is a response to the lack of awareness and high-level debate on the worsening situation in the country.

According to the United Nations, the government of Eritrea is responsible for systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations, which has created a climate of fear and stifled dissent. Many Eritreans are subjected to forced labour and imprisonment, and hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country. A significant number of which have sought asylum in the UK.

Eritrea is one of poorest countries in the world. Its economy has been in chaos since the disastrous border war with Ethiopia in 1998-1999. Eritrea is also one of the most repressive states in the world, with severe limitations on rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and information. The country is ranked last on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

The lack of basic human rights and freedoms is a key driver of emigration, with Eritreans making up a significant proportion of the flow of refugees into Europe.

Tom Lebert, Senior Programme Officer (Africa) at War on Want said:

“The plight of Eritreans and the voice of a growing Eritrean diaspora in the UK is rarely heard, yet Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world and its people subject to gross human rights abuses.

“The All-Party Parliamentary Group is significant step to raising awareness of this oppressive regime, and War on Want congratulates Eritrea Focus and the cross-party parliamentarians concerned on this achievement. 

“We hope the key challenges facing Eritrean asylum seekers in the UK can now be addressed and that pressure can be brought to bear on the Eritrean government with regard to human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

The newly elected  officers of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea are:

  • Chair: Matthew Pennycook MP (Labour, Greenwich and Woolwich)
  • Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead (Labour)
  • Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench)
  • Jeremy Lefroy MP(Conservative, Stafford)
  • Ann Clwyd MP (Labour, Cynon Valley)
  • Patrick Grady MP (SNP, Glasgow North)

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