Eritrean who fled to UK wins award for helping other refugees

A young Eritrean woman who fled to the UK after her father was arrested for his political activities in her home country will receive an award for helping and inspiring other migrants and refugees. Her award

A young Eritrean woman who fled to the UK after her father was arrested for his political activities in her home country will receive an award for helping and inspiring other migrants and refugees.

Her award comes as the number of Eritreans granted protection in the UK has plummeted after a change in Home Office advice on asylum requests from the repressive east African country.

At 16, Seada Fekadu’s world was turned upside down when her father was arrested for his work with the opposition in Eritrea. Fearing for her safety, an aunt paid for Fekadu to escape the capital, Asmara. Fekadu took a boat to neighbouring Djibouti, caught a plane to Paris and made her way to Calais, where she and others were smuggled in a lorry to London’s Waterloo.

Fekadu went to a nearby police station, was handed over to social services and was granted refugee status by the Home Office after three months. Five years on, Fekadu speaks about her dangerous voyage as if describing a commute to work.
“In Calais, they put you in a truck, you don’t have a choice. ‘You have to take this one,’ the agent said. I didn’t know where I was going. The truck dropped us near a police station, they found us a translator and after two hours, social services came,” she said.

In a sense she was one of the lucky ones. Fekadu arrived in Britain before the current migration crisis currently engulfing Europe. Getting to the UK in the back of the truck was relatively easy in 2011. Since then, Fekadu has built a new life. She is studying for her BTec – physics is her favourite subject – and has offers from four universities to study biomedical science.

“I want to become a doctor to help people, it’s about saving lives. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I’ve been a child,” she said.
She has also been volunteering with Young Roots, a charity that helps young refugees. A social worker put Fekadu in touch with Young Roots soon after she arrived and she is now returning the favour by helping recent young arrivals referred to the charity.

“Young Roots helped me gain confidence. Now it’s my turn to help others,” she said. “I’ve been in their situation so I can understand them and I’m happy to help. They are young, I am young, we are like friends.”

Fekadu, now a trustee at the charity, takes youngsters to museums, to play football, to swim and for trips outside London. In recognition of her work, Fekadu will receive an award recognising women with a migrant or refugee background who provide inspiring leadership.

“So much of our time is taken up with communicating negative stories, we wanted to show the hopeful and positive work being done,” said Laura Padoan from the UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees, a joint organiser of the Women on the Move awards with the Forum, a migrant group. The event is on Friday at the Royal Festival Hall.

“She certainly stood out for her maturity and resilience despite what she went through. It’s really remarkable,” said Padoan, one of the judges.

The timing of Fedaku’s flight from Eritrea was fortunate. The Home Office last March advised that people from the country were no longer at risk of persecution if they returned home. The updated advice said citizens who left without permission – many of them to escape its indefinite military service – would not face persecution if they returned.

Yet the researchers behind the report, which the Home Office cited heavily, publicly distanced themselves from the findings, claiming the report was unsubstantiated and distorted. In June, the UN issued a damning report which concluded that the Eritrean government’s systematic use of extrajudicial killing, torture, rape, indefinite national service and forced labour may amount to crimes against humanity.

The UNHCR estimates that 5,000 people leave Eritrea every month and Eritreans account for the largest group of people applying for asylum in the UK, with 3,729 applications in 2015, a 48% increase over 2014. Eritrea also had the highest number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children last year at 694.

As a result of the Home Office advice, the proportion of initial decisions allowing Eritreans to stay plummeted to 48% in 2015 from 87% in the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of appeals from Eritreans soared from 172 in 2014 to 1,718 in 2015. Eighty percent of those Eritrean appeals determined in 2015 were allowed (which means refugee status for five years), an increase from 44% in the previous year.

Asked whether she misses Eritrea, Fedaku says: “Sometimes I miss my friends, but I don’t have much time to think about home, I have to study and the friends around me are like family, like home.”

The Guardian

aseye.asena@gmail.com

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21 COMMENTS
  • AHMED SALEH !!! March 7, 2016

    I hope Eritrean women gain power in our national politics to lead us
    out from darkness . Practically they proved themselves not by words but by taking the walk to set positive influences .
    I wish our people recognize their potential by avoiding biased attitude
    starting with DELEYTI FITHI movement . Who knows ? They may able find
    answer for political problems that divided us the same way they handle
    family affairs .

  • Tsehaye March 7, 2016

    Dear all,

    Seada and her generation are victims of the continuation of the barbarism of ghedli. There kids in the late seventies and eighties that the mindless ghedli had exterminated. I get so much disgusted when I hear some people saying that ghedli did not intend to liberate the people but the land. The fact of the matter is ghedli never intended to liberate anything, but to exterminate the Eritrean people. Isaias and his henchmen ruled ghedli the same way that they have been ruling the country for 25 years. Eritreans will not liberate themselves without deromanticizing ghedli.

    Independence Day is a few months away, and on that day, Eritreans should mourn and not drink and dance. What is there to celebrate if every child who can walk is abandoning the country? What is there to celebrate if Eritreans are losing their lives their thousands in the Arabian deserts and in the high seas? What is there to celebrate if the Eritrean youth like Seada are denied the opportunity of growing up in the warmth of their parents? We are people who have lost their sanity and direction.

    • Tsehaye March 7, 2016

      please read as: “There were kids in the late…” in the 1st paragraph and “losing their lives in their thousands…” in the 2nd paragraph.

  • Berhe Tensea March 7, 2016

    Thank you for this heart worming story, that is good and a change from the very depressing and bad news that we are used to hear and read.
    I wish success and happiness to Seada.

  • Hagherawi March 7, 2016

    “Seada and her generation are victims of the continuation of the barbarism of ghedli. There kids in the late seventies and eighties that the mindless ghedli had exterminated. I get so much disgusted when I hear some people saying that ghedli did not intend to liberate the people but the land. The fact of the matter is ghedli never intended to liberate anything, but to exterminate the Eritrean people.”

    Tsehaye

    Are your attempting to de-legitimize Ghedli ?

    You must be one of those rootless elements who hate Eritrea, because now it’s an independent country. The shifta regime in Asmara is run by people like you.
    The problem is not Ghedli but its abusers. The problem is not Eritrean nationalism, but the country being in the wrong hands.

    • AHMED SALEH !!! March 8, 2016

      Hagherawi
      We know who is who in this forum including HGDF – WEYANE cadres and
      remnants of MAHER ANDNET.
      Ghedli Eritrea doesn’t need their praise and justification . We made
      history with Eritreans blood where Tsehaye found facts hard to swallow.
      No good baby cry complainers put down their pants to surrender . The
      good news their female compatriots began to encourage them on how to
      act like real men .

    • Tsehaye March 8, 2016

      Dear Hagherawi,

      The “rootless” people that you call created and guided ghedli (Shaebia), liberated the country and now they have been ruling it like hell on Earth. What have you done to stop them besides being an anonymous online tiger? You cannot even dare to use a real name late alone to fight against them. Shame on you. ፈኲስ!

  • k.tewolde March 8, 2016

    God bless this young Eritrean lady, hopefully something beautiful will evolve from this murky situation we are in, like the story of the ugly duckling.This is the generation that is poised to determine which direction the future Eritrea would go.

  • Musa Ali March 9, 2016

    Thehaye, hagerawi
    U both have points. It is the democratic rights of every citizen to think freely and believe in what they believe, Whether what they believe is right or wrong or widely accepted or rejected. Thehaye, you have the right to advocate unity if you believe unity is better for eritrean and eritreans, forcing people to accept it regardless of their desire simply because u believe in it however is undemocratic and unacceptable. I am not saying that u do believe in unity. On the other hand,Calling names eg. Rootless, is a sign of weakness and not strength. It may also be a sign of ignorance. Hagerawi – u have a point when u said gedli is not the problem but it’s leaders who betrayed all that it stood for. This is one of the questions that many will struggle to answer. Be it the first or second, u both have a common enemy- higdef – group of thugs.

    • AHMED SALEH !!! March 9, 2016

      Musa Ali
      Could do you please show me one sentence of Tsehaye that advocate for
      Eritrean unity except to degrade the credibility of our struggle ?
      Hagherawi might feel insulted to compare him with some suspicious assenna
      forum ghosts hard to observe their true image .

      • Tsehaye March 10, 2016

        Dear Ahmed,

        Birds of the same feather flock together. ነቲ ብዘመነ-ኦሪት ራሕሪሕክሞ ዝሃደምኩም ገድልስ: ሕጂ እምብኣር ከተፍቅርዎ ጀሚርኩም:) Please keep that cozy relationship with that anonymous creature.

        Cheers!

      • Musa Ali March 11, 2016

        Mr ahmed
        U need to distinguish b/n an example and actual words of a person. I did not say thehaye advocates unity. I clearly stated that if u read it entirely. My point was that let alone criticizing ghedli he has the right even to advocate for unity if he wants. That is the bottom line of my comment. If u have problem with that u can still argue against it.

    • Tsehaye March 10, 2016

      Dear Musa Ali,

      I agree with you that we have the thuggish PFDJ as a common enemy to fight for. However, I am surprised to see you not going far enough to condemn Hagherawi’s stinking bigotry of calling Eritreans that he disagrees with as “rootless elements”. You simply called it “a sign of weakness and not strength.” The spade deserves to be called by its actual name. Hagherawi is a rotten and spineless begot.

      I believe that the root cause to the perpetual Eritrean problem is the barbaric ghedli. We would not have Isaias and the PFDJ mafia without ghedli. We would not have had about half of the Eritrean population exiled and the young people leaving in their thousands every month without ghedli. Ghedli is not an abstract and nature-made thing. It was created and executed by some of the most ruthless criminals the Eritrean people had ever seen. The burning of villages in the sixties and early seventies, the murdering of peasants, the killing of መንካዕ, the killing of ፋሉል, the killing of የማናዊ-ጸጋማዊ, the destruction of ቆሓይን and ደምበላስ, the extermination of young Eritreans under the name of endless ግፋ during the late seventies and throughout the eighties are some of the well documented crimes of ghedli committed against the Eritrean people. Therefore, I consider it pointless to try to fix the current Eritrean problem without uncovering the ugly history of ghedli. The extermination project of ghedli against the Eritrean people did not spring up suddenly after independence. It started right after the advent of the mindless ghedli.

      • AHMED SALEH !!! March 10, 2016

        Tsehaye
        Reading your above comment since we have been in this forum for a while,
        I noticed familiarity of the person with same mentality but the given
        name didn’t match .
        I hope you aren’t in a game to confuse participants . We can’t teach for
        right things if ourselves practice it’s opposite .

      • Musa Ali March 11, 2016

        Dear thehaye
        I didn’t like the name calling at all but thought it could be as a result of being emotional on his part. It could also be ignorance. Example, I do not support unity my self, but why should I try to call u uneritrean if u believe in unity. Who gives me the right to be more eritren than any other eritren. There is nothing that make one eritren more eritrean than others. Especially if we believe in democracy, it is the right to be wrong; but not the right to do wrong or push against the rights of others. So u have the right to argue that ghedli was started to destroy eritrea and eritreans or for selfish interest of a few who had to eliminate any body who disagreed with them or else.similarly, Hagerawi, has the right to disagree with ur comment.

        • Tsehaye March 11, 2016

          Dear Musa Ali,

          Let me make it clear once for all that I have never advocated for unity with any country in the neighborhood. Nevertheless, I am a pro-choice, and if the Eritrean people decide to reunite with any country that they choose, I am for it. On the other hand, if the Eritrean people decide to keep Eritrea the way it is, I am also for it as long as there is peace and harmony. I believe that the referendum of 1993 which was carried out under the ruthless PFDJ’s tyranny was a sham and a farce. Many Eritreans who would have had chosen differently were prevented from doing so because they were scared of being persecuted and ostracized. In addition, Eritreans (including many opposition members) who refused to participate in the referendum were called “enemies of the state”. The referendum was not about offering Eritreans a choice. It was all meant to legitimize the tyranny of Shaebia and its wing, the PFDJ mafia.

          Strangely, the myopic opposition members and the PFDJ supporters have one thing in common: they both are allergic to new ideas and vision outside their circles. Supporters of the regime are known to calling any Eritrean who opposes the way the PFDJ mafia is ruling the country as “Woyane, Agame, Fifth Column, defeatist” and you name it. Similarly, many of the pitiful opposition members are known to labelling any Eritrean who criticizes and narrates the barbarism of ghedli that was committed on the Eritrean people as “rootless elements, unionist, neo-andnet” and what have you. With this kind of mentality, it is not that hard to imagine what is waiting for Eritrea and its people after the PFDJ regime is removed from power. ኣምላኽ ባዕሉ ይሓልወና ኢልካ ምሕላፉ ይሓይሽ::

          • Fikre March 11, 2016

            To assume that Eritreans fought against the dergue in order to get united with Ethiopia is an insult to human intelligence. If I am not mistaken though the article is about Seada, an Eritrean woman who is found to be inspiring by some positive thinkers in the UK not whether Eritrea’s existence as a nation is to some or other individual’s liking at this point in time. So Tsehaye entatie nzerie alena gdefo bejaka ilnaka.Focus on Seada story. Or are you envious of this smart woman’s recognition?

          • Tsehaye March 12, 2016

            Dear Fikre,

            Could you please kindly break it down into real numbers so that Eritreans can have an idea about how many Eritreans fought against the Dergu of their own volition, how many Eritreans were forced to participate against their will, and how many Eritreans never participated or had no desire to participate? I am having a problem with your blanket statement that “Eritreans fought against the dergue..”.

            If you had read the article very carefully before you rushed to utter “entatie” and what have you, you would have realized that the article is mostly about Seada’s plight and very little about her success story. Here is my unsolicited advice to you: please leave that phony ghedli romanticizing suit in your closet whenever you drop by to comment here. Remember that Eritrea is not and will never be your private gadget.

  • Concerned Eritrawi March 9, 2016

    Congratulations and keep up the hard and noble work you have started. Helping other and helping the needy at the time of their hardship is beyond imagination. Especially for those who are very venerable and abuse by a system from where they came. God Bless you and you will be rewarded for your good deeds.

  • Kbrom Tsehaye March 10, 2016

    I think ,Dear Eritreans, I am also some one who had been agelglot in the third round group, but later staying longer, like more than 5 years, left and esacaped through border in 2001, I missed to sustain in Eritrea,and found many problems and fled out, To talk about Eritrea is very long history, Any way shame to the elements of Hgdef, misses to direct the people in the right way, first of all they arent part of Eritrea who know the country well, they confuse it so long, very narrowed people, they know it has a solution but misses to give his freedom, Any way pls those ones who are growing now in the teen aged or above, we couldnt miss to live with ethiopia or sudan, we have the right to live ,we need to grow in humanity ,relationship, understanding, transparency ,loyality and other ethical virtues, we miss a lot to tkow this ,Why peopls are crying is or has a good answer,The ignorant ygdef stolen the people to act openly,And they are doing it deliberatly people should have to open their mind and judge,they are wearing masks those hgdef, of eritrea but they not true eritreans, who belongs cant do like that,…shame on them and those who knowingly torture the innocent people,..I have a lot to tell but ,it looks to the saying that zeykrumtka hutsa kortmelu,

  • meg March 13, 2016

    Thank you sister for showing the world who we are. keep the good work. God bless you.

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