The dilemma of the Ethiopian asylum seekers community
It is nearly 4 months since the Oslo Cathedral hunger strike ended. Since then, the situation of Ethiopian asylum seekers shows no sign of improvement; rather, it has
Worsened We were forced to leave the temporary camp we had been living in for nearly three months. Now we have lived in the street for almost a month in a tent beside the Oslo Cathedral.
The discussions which we held with the Norwegian authorities right after the hunger strike were unsuccessful. These discussions were not helpful or in any way promising in regard to solving the root problem, at least in the near future. The only offer given by the UDI was shelter in the form of a camp, but that was not an option most Ethiopian asylum seekers could accept, since it is not a lasting solution at all.
The biggest dilemma here is: How long can an asylum seeker live in a camp without a solution? 17 years? 27 years? Or to the very end of his/her life? And if that is the case, then it must necessarily raise questions about moral integrity, human dignity and human rights.
There are so many Ethiopians who have lived in a camp for so many years without any rights, literally in some cases until 17 years. Ethiopian asylum seekers have escaped from a brutal and merciless regime that has persecuted and harassed them because of their political view, identity or sympathy with opposition parties
Ethiopians under dictatorial regime . Even though they are physically safe here in Norway, the Ethiopians who have been living in camps for a number of years have been forced to continue their lives passively, without doing anything, without any clue as to what could happen next with and with heavy depression and much desperation for an indefinite period of time. Despite the fact that their past in Ethiopia was full of pain, harassment and fear which need medical attention and psychological help, they now find themselves living a life of another kind of fear, insecurity, uncertainty and stress – a dark life without a light even at the end of the tunnel.
There are also many Ethiopians asylum seekers who were working in Norway for so many years; they were a working force, tax-paying individuals with family and friends. In general, they were well integrated into the Norwegian society. Now they are prohibited from living the normal life they lived for years. When they are asked to leave their lives and move into a camp it is simply an act of displacement. It would be difficult for anybody to accept such a proposal and go to a camp, all the more when the camps have the reputation and the atmosphere described above.
Ethiopians have fled from a country that is ruled by a highly repressive and dictatorial regime that kills, tortures and harasses citizens arbitrarily. Ethiopian asylum seekers were the victims and the witnesses of such vicious acts.
Ethiopians under dictatorial regime This is why we need and deserve protection. When 60 individuals including women and children joined a hunger strike, it demonstrates the gravity of the situation. When many of them later see themselves as forced to live in the street, while the rest went to Sweden under desperate circumstances, it shows how grave the situation remains.
A tent beside the Oslo cathedral church No one wants to live in such conditions unless you have serious problems. This is now not only an asylum issue, but a political, social and health problem too. What we are facing is a humanitarian catastrophe. A clear solution is desperately needed.
Therefore, we would like to ask once again all governmental bodies to consider our situation and to solve the problem in accordance with the moral and ethical standards of the Norwegian society.