Eritrean government must put aside empty promises and protect citizens' human rights

Statement by UN Watch
ID: SR on Human Rights in Eritrea
Agenda Item 4, UNHRC 31st Session
14 March 2016

Delivered by Mr. Daniel Mekonnen

Thank you Mr. President,
I am honored to make this statement on behalf of UN Watch.
I thank the Special Rapporteur for her oral update and for her relentless efforts in spotlighting the plight of unaccompanied migrant children from Eritrea. This problem is part and parcel of the unacceptable level of gross human rights violations in the country, including a possible situation of crimes against humanity, which is well documented by the first report of the Commission of Inquiry. The problem is worsening by the day.
There is overwhelming evidence pointing to the fact that the pervasive practice of coerced and indefinite military conscription without formal pay, including forced enlistment of underage children, is the main reason for the mass exodus of Eritrean society. This problem is disproportionately affecting unaccompanied migrant children, who are fleeing the country on an alarming scale.
While the adoption of long-term recommendations is very much appreciated, the importance of urgent solutions specifically aimed at alleviating the plight of unaccompanied migrant children cannot be overemphasized.
The problem requires urgent solutions, including calling on the Eritrean government to put aside empty promises and take tangible and immediate steps to put a halt to its prolonged practice of indefinite military conscription. This Council should also call on all recipient countries to adopt measures that ensure adequate legal protection to unaccompanied migrant children. Many of these children, particularly those in the immediate neighboring countries of Eritrea, are living in extremely dangerous circumstances that are an affront to the human conscience.
I would like to conclude by reiterating my call for an urgent humanitarian solution to the prolonged suffering of unaccompanied migrant Eritrean children wherever they are, including a solution to the root causes of their flight from Eritrea.
Thank you Mr. President.

UN Watch