African Migrants: An asylum case study ‘Seeking safety in Europe from torture and ill-treatment’

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HW had already lost her youngest son, presumed drowned in the Mediterranean Sea when she decided to flee Eritrea in 2013.

Her youngest son had died in 2009 in a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea seeking a new life and safety in Europe after which, HW made the decision to to seek sanctuary in the Federal Republic of Germany via a commercial flight in 2013. HW was 57 years old when she left the country that she said she could no longer call “home” anymore.

HW’s family’s problems originated in the Eritrean-Ethiopian conflict. Both her father and her husband were Eritrean nationals, whilst her mother was of Ethiopian nationality. This led to the issue, in terms of a mixed marriage, that the family could not live in safety in either country.

The family had lived in Eritrea until 1999, until they had to leave due to the issues of her mother’s Ethiopian nationality. They then moved to Ethiopia, though soon after in 2000, the family was deported back to Eritrea by the Ethiopian authorities.

By 2006 when the situation in Eritrea became so unbearable for HW that she decided to take the risk again and leave Ethiopia with one of her children, another son.

What happened then would change HW’s life forever.

HW was detained by the Eritrean authorities crossing the border and where she was accused of being an Ethiopian spy. Both she and her son remained in prison for three years up until 2009.

During her time in prison, HW was tortured and ill-treated to such an extent that she lost her hearing and even today, is no longer able to walk anymore. Her German doctor attested that this could not have derived from any precondition and was a direct result of her ill-treatment by Eritrean authorities.

In 2012, her son was abducted by Bedouins and taken back to Sudan. HW decided to follow him to Sudan to search for him, but without any success. She and a granddaughter, the daughter of her son who died in the Mediterranean Sea in 2009, then used all their contacts and relatives, living both within and outside of Africa, to assist them to leave Eritrea, eventually managing to get on a commercial flight to Germany.

Their journey from such conditions of torture and ill-treatment ended in Bonn, where they claimed asylum and where HW’s stepdaughter and daughter had already settled.

For full case study see: HERE

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