Eritrean pair disappear during Cecafa Cup in Kenya – BBC

Two members of the Eritrean national team have disappeared in Kenya while playing in the Cecafa Cup. Suspicions are now raised the pair will seek asylum in the east African country. It is not the first time

Two members of the Eritrean national team have disappeared in Kenya while playing in the Cecafa Cup.

Suspicions are now raised the pair will seek asylum in the east African country.

It is not the first time players from the national squad have defected abroad, seeking to escape one of the world’s most repressive states that is ruled by a reclusive president.

Last December, 17 players and the team doctor claimed asylum in Uganda, eighteen months after 13 players from an Eritrean club side sought refuge in Tanzania.

In 2009, a dozen members of the national team disappeared in Kenya.

“This is an unfortunate incident happening again and it is causing a lot of concern to the East and Central Africa soccer officials,” Nicholas Musonye, secretary general of East and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa), told Reuters.

The two men, who have yet to be identified, failed to return to their hotel on Saturday after watching another match, Musonye said.

The United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay last year accused the Asmara government of meting out summary executions, torture and detaining thousands of political prisoners.

Thousands of Eritreans try to flee the Red Sea state every year and many die making perilous sea-crossings in a desperate bid to reach Europe.

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37 COMMENTS
  • Philipos December 2, 2013

    Nevi Gebremeskel, a 21-year-old defender who just finished his season playing for White City Woodville, a team in the South Australian Premier League, said that the Eritrean soccer officials led him to flee, not the government.

    “We need to play and we had a big problem with the federation,” he said in a telephone interview. “If anyone got the chance to go overseas, any team from any country, they didn’t allow them to go.”

    • Concerned Eritrawi December 3, 2013

      Sorry Philipos one cannot be that Naive!
      Nevi Gebremeskel is too young to understand who Eritrean Soccer Officials are and/or who is the government is. He is just blaming the wrong people. The Soccer Officials are under strict control of the regime.
      He will grow up to understand why most the Eritrean Officials act the way they act. When I say official, I am saying officials who represent the government. None of them have the power to make any decision without the approval of the regime. Their title is meaningless, as to what they can do. Let us put the blame where it belongs.
      NO one should be naive enough, because the officials cannot say openly to because they know what will happen to them.

      • Elinor December 4, 2013

        Does that kind of report and statement not align with your political agenda? Let us respect our brothers reasoning as you would want others to respect yours. Some could argue that in fact that it is you who are naive.

  • aus 17 December 4, 2013

    When one talks about teams in football, one assumes as if ones right to free choice. That’s not the case in Eritrea, the northen korea of horn Africa if you wish.
    Our football players are like prisoners, in custody, checked in and out in every movement, if possible even their mental thinking is under scrutiny. What would these type of players achieve? self worth, self esteem, naught/nada/nothing.
    However, the foolest is the one who returns to that custody/ prison like a donkey, never learn never forget. Just comes back to take its portion of whipping and lashing if otherwise the worst..
    Then only blame yoursself because you missed your probably only chance to freedom.

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