Letter of Appeal From the Oromo Refugees in Egypt
Letter of Appeal | June 17, 2013
We, members of the Oromo Community in Cairo are out of our home, camping in front of the UNHCR office in Cairo since last Sunday (09/06/2013) when we went out for demonstration in front of the UNHCR office in Egypt to present our security concern peacefully because of the escalating harassment and physical attack on members of our community from the Egyptian ordinary society who felt angry and started attacking members of our community after Ethiopia announced diversion of the normal flow of the blue Nile River to build the so called renaissance dam in Ethiopia.
We decided to demonstrate in front of the UNHCR after we started receiving shocking incidents like what happened to our brotherAbbi Haru Buli (UHNCR File No.: 352/2010), whose was beaten severely by 3 Egyptian men and burned by hot metal stick over his back on 26 May 2013. The most disappointing thing was police officer’s treatment when he went to file the report with his father and with an elders in our community who said to him “You Ethiopians are cutting our Nile, you are all lairs … so I do not file the report; I will inform other police stations in the neighborhood also so that they refuse filing reports to Ethiopians anywhere, while he (the officer) was looking at Abbi crying for help.” The other incident was that of our sister Amina Husen Shone (UNHCR File No. 1202/2013) on 30/05/2013 who was thrown under TUKTUK just because she is Ethiopian while she was going to Ambabarsum hospital for medical follow up; the third incidents was when our friend Abdurazak who works as and interpreter in the UNHCR was also attacked by group of Egyptian men on 6th of June 2013 just because he is Ethiopian; another shocking incident which led us to demonstration in front of the UNHCR Cairo was when three Oromo refugees: 1. Ahmed Omer Mohamed (UNHCR File No.: 2746/2011), 2.Sabir Abdalla Ali and Abdalla’s wife 3. Bilise Oli Ahmed – 5 months (UNHCR File No. 1585/2013) who were sharing the same apartment in Maadi Neighborhood were brutally attacked in their apartment on 07/06/2013 by three angry Egyptian men just because they are known in that area as Ethiopian residents;
There are many other incidents which led us to demonstrate in front of the UNHCR like eviction from home, expelling from job, killing threats and rape incidents that happened to our sisters by their employers and by brokers on different occasions.
Our main demand from the UNHCR starting from the first day of our protest is to ask for our safety and protection for our lives from the UNHCR office in Cairo and from the Egyptian society. However, nothing is improved until today as we are still receiving reports of eviction from home and beating as happened to Mr. Anwar Mohamed Fati (UNHCR File No.: 2410/2013) was evicted from his apartment on Tuesday 11/06/2013 after his apartment’s door was broken and his properties were stolen. The land lord who did all this crime against Mr. Anwar called him again on 14/06/2013 saying “Come back and take your deposit,” has prepared four people against him including two police men who beat Mr. Anwar and his wife as seen on his back on the photo we took immediately after the incident.
Another two recent incidents were about rape attempt by UNHCR security officer against our sister Humashi Feleke Dukassa (UNHCR File No.: 2464/2013) on 14/06/2013 and about the attack happened to our friend Mohammed Hassane Yusuf (UNHCR File No.: 299/2011) in front of the UNHCR office on 11/06/2013 who was beaten when he was trying to defend another Oromo girl from rape attempt. He was also denied emergency medical aid because he was identified as Ethiopian in nationality.
These are recent evidences that show us our member’s security problem are still increasing, and we are also receiving many more reports of incidents as a record. We fear this number would increase after the Ethiopian parliament approved Entebbe protocol last Thursday 13/06/2013 according to report from Aljazeera Arabic online: http://www.aljazeera.net/news/pages/778d8ab8-5c8f-46d1-824e-66312c43dc3d which removes Egypt’s veto power over the Nile River. There is also a very big demonstration to be staged at Tahrir square against the government and about the Nile River Dam which we fear may escalate our security concern.
The demonstration we held a week ago still continued for the 8th day yesterday on Sunday 16/06/2013 as shown on the YouTube links:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoYXcmAT5Js. Besides our basic demands: safety and security our members, we also asked the UNHCR office in Cairo to give us food and shelter and to allow our children and women to use toilets in the UNHCR premise as emergency place for sanitation.
However, the response we received from the UNHCR deputy director was not satisfying as she said: “the Egyptian government does not allow food and shelter for refugees as it didn’t sign such protocol to allow camps for refugees. As for sanitation, she also said to us that UNHCR does not allow toilets for demonstrators.
Our worries and concerns:
- We out of our home for over a week and we are depending on ourselves to cover our daily expenses. As there is no job for men in this country, our women who work a very heavy job with a very small wage are also expelled from their jobs, and the limited money we have is alarmingly decreasing, we fear our children are going to starve soon unless urgent support is given to us.
- As we are sleeping out in the street, many of our members are suffering from different kinds of diseases because of different contaminations and lack of clean food and water. We are therefore, spending our money on emergency medical assistance too which increases our worries if the money we have in our pockets rapidly vanishing.
- Our security concerns are increasing because the Ethiopian Embassy in Cairo has already labeled us with OLF, and we are also receiving bad attitude from some Egyptians in the neighborhood because we are sleeping in open space in front of the UNHCR office in Cairo. Therefore, we kindly ask for urgent and immediate action to protect our lives in this country.
- To support us financially as soon as possible,
- To advocate for our legitimate need of safety and protection to responsible organizations and countries,
- To help us get media coverage to make our voices heard as much as possible for the world to hear us and give us the attention we deserve, and
- For the Oromo communities in exile to support us by lauding our voices and presenting our legitimate needs to the countries you are living in
Please contact the following two people who represent us for any assistance you provide or if any further information are needed regarding our week long demonstration in front of the UNHCR office in Cairo.