Annex E – References to source material Preface________________________________________ i This Country of Origin Information Report (COI Report) has been produced by COI Service, UK Border Agency (UKBA), for use by officials involved in the asylum/human rights determination process. The Report provides general background information about the issues most commonly raised in asylum/human rights claims made in the United Kingdom. The main body of the report includes information available up to 31 July 2008. The ‘Latest News’ section contains further brief information on events and reports accessed from 31 July to 13 September 2008. This COI report was issued on 1 October 2008.
ii The Report is compiled wholly from material produced by a wide range of recognised external information sources and does not contain any UK Border Agency opinion or policy. All information in the Report is attributed, throughout the text, to the original source material, which is made available to those working in the asylum/human rights determination process.
iii The Report aims to provide a brief summary of the source material identified, focusing on the main issues raised in asylum and human rights applications. It is not intended to be a detailed or comprehensive survey. For a more detailed account, the relevant source documents should be examined directly.
iv The structure and format of the COI Report reflects the way it is used by UK Border Agency decision makers and appeals presenting officers, who require quick electronic access to information on specific issues and use the contents page to go directly to the subject required. Key issues are usually covered in some depth within a dedicated section, but may also be referred to briefly in several other sections. Some repetition is therefore inherent in the structure of the Report.
v The information included in this COI Report is limited to that which can be identified from source documents. While every effort is made to cover all relevant aspects of a particular topic, it is not always possible to obtain the information concerned. For this reason, it is important to note that information included in the Report should not be taken to imply anything beyond what is actually stated. For example, if it is stated that a particular law has been passed, this should not be taken to imply that it has been effectively implemented unless stated.
vi As noted above, the Report is a collation of material produced by a number of reliable information sources. In compiling the Report, no attempt has been made to resolve discrepancies between information provided in different source documents. For example, different source documents often contain different versions of names and spellings of individuals, places and political parties, etc. COI Reports do not aim to bring consistency of spelling, but to reflect faithfully the spellings used in the original source documents. Similarly, figures given in different source documents sometimes vary and these are simply quoted as per the original text. The term ‘sic’ has been used in this document only to denote incorrect spellings or typographical errors in quoted text; its use is not intended to imply any comment on the content of the material.
vii The Report is based substantially upon source documents issued during the previous two years. However, some older source documents may have been included because they contain relevant information not available in more recent documents. All sources contain information considered relevant at the time this Report was issued.
viii This COI Report and the accompanying source material are public documents. All COI Reports are published on the RDS section of the Home Office website and the great majority of the source material for the Report is readily available in the public domain. Where the source documents identified in the Report are available in electronic form, the relevant web link has been included, together with the date that the link was accessed. Copies of less accessible source documents, such as those provided by government offices or subscription services, are available from the COI Service upon request.
ix COI Reports are published regularly on the top 20 asylum intake countries. COI Key Documents are produced on lower asylum intake countries according to operational need. UK Border Agency officials also have constant access to an information request service for specific enquiries.
x In producing this COI Report, COI Service has sought to provide an accurate, balanced summary of the available source material. Any comments regarding this Report or suggestions for additional source material are very welcome and should be submitted to the UK Border Agency as below.
Country of Origin Information Service
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Website:http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/country_reports.html Advisory Panel on Country Information xi The independent Advisory Panel on Country Information (APCI) was established in 2003 to make recommendations to the Home Secretary about the content of the UK Border Agency’s country of origin information material. The APCI welcomes all feedback on the UK Border Agency’s COI Reports, Key Documents and other country of origin information material. Information about the Panel’s work can be found on its website at www.apci.org.uk
xii In the course of its work, the APCI reviews the content of selected UK Border Agency COI documents and makes recommendations specific to those documents and of a more general nature. The APCI may or may not have reviewed this particular document. At the following link is a list of the COI Reports and other documents which have, to date, been reviewed by the APCI: www.apci.org.uk/reviewed-documents.html
xiii Please note: It is not the function of the APCI to endorse any UK Border Agency material or procedures. Some of the material examined by the Panel relates to countries designated or proposed for designation for the Non-Suspensive Appeals (NSA) list. In such cases, the Panel’s work should not be taken to imply any endorsement of the decision or proposal to designate a particular country for NSA, nor of the NSA process itself.
Advisory Panel on Country Information:
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Events in Eritrea, from 31 July to 13 September 2008
13 September Awate.com has alleged that there is a visa regime agreed by the Eritrean and the Sudanese Governments that targets all visa Eritreans leaving Eritrea via Sudan: “In exchange for Euros and US dollars, the Eritrean embassy in Khartoum issues Eritrean passports to escapees who secure visas (mostly to the Arab Gulf states.) Ironically, the Eritrean citizens would have been shot on sight if the Eritrean government border patrol had spotted them days earlier. Once a visa is secured for a foreign country, they need to get an exit visa from Sudan's immigration office. Following its reconciliation with Eritrean officials, the Sudanese government has instructed its immigation office not to issue exit visas to Eritreans unless they bring a no-objection letter from the Eritrean embassy in Khartoum. Prior to issuing the no-objection letter, the Eritrean embassy requires the applicants to fill lengthy forms (their relatives, addresses, etc) and transfers the information to the Eritrea embassies in their destination country. This assures their loyalty once they arrive in the foreign land. They are required to pay a mandatory 2% of their income taxes. If they refuse to co-operate, their relatives risk denial of any service from the government.” The article also refers to the denial of visas by Egypt to Eritrean passport holders.
10 September The Eritrean People’s Party (EPP) and the Eritrean Democratic Party (EDP) were reported by the Ethiopian state news agency, Walta Information Centre, to reached an accord to challenge the regime in Asmara together.
Walta Information Centre, via BBC News International (Africa), 10 September 2008, Opposition said [to be] working towards ‘downfall of dictatorial regime in Eritrea’.
Via Dialog Datastar news subscription service
Date accessed 16 August 2008
31 August The Israeli authorities have discovered and disrupted a major people-smuggling ring involving the smuggling of Eritrean migrants.
Ma’ariv newspaper, via BBC News International (Middle East), 31 August 2008, Israel uncovers criminal ring smuggling Eritrean migrants.
Via Dialog Datastar news subscription service
Date accessed 16 August 2008
14 August “On Tuesday, July 8, 2008, authorities conducted a raid on the local office Jehovah’s Witnesses use for organizing their work. Equipment used for translating and printing was confiscated. Long-time members of the congregations, men in their 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s [sic], were subsequently rounded up in their homes or places of work. In most cases these are the breadwinners for their families. As of May 2008, there were 21 other Jehovah’s Witnesses who have remained in prison in Eritrea. False hopes of progress were raised when one of them, Ghebrenigus Habte, was released on May 31. The events of recent weeks prove that such hope was premature—the number of prisoners has since nearly doubled.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses Office of Public Information, 14 August 2008, Systematic arrests in Eritrea aggressively target minority faith http://www.compassdirect.org/en/display.php?page=news&lang=en&length=long&idelement=5513
Date accessed 18 August 2008
11 August 1,500 Bibles confiscated from conscripts on arrival at the Sawa Defense Training School, and and burned publically. Eight students protested and were detained in metal shipping containers.
Compass Direct News, 11 August 2008, Eritrea; Christian students shut into shipping containers
Does not open on POISE – take address into a browser, and save pdf.
Urgent Action Update, dated 07 August 2008,AI Index: MDE 12/018/2008 “Up to 1,200 Eritrean asylum-seekers were forcibly returned to Eritrea between 12 and 19 June. Reports from Eritrea indicate that most of the men who were returned and some of the single women have been detained in military training camps in the remote and dry area of We’a. The returned women with children and those who were pregnant are believed to have been released after some weeks in detention.“Egypt has not disclosed exactly how many people were forcibly returned. According to information available to Amnesty International, about 425 were deported from Aswan International Airport on three special Egypt Air flights in the early hours of 12 June, 13 June and 14 June to Massawa military base. Another 400 were deported to Eritrea from Cairo airport on 18 June and 380 others on 19 June also from Cairo airport. Other
flights were also reported on 15 June. “About 130 Eritrean asylum-seekers are still held at Shallal central security forces camp in Aswan, southern Egypt, in addition to 49 Ethiopians. Following appeals from Amnesty International and others, on 15 June Egypt announced that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt would be granted access to all asylum-seekers. Following the UNHCR's visit to Shallal camp, the 179 were able to apply for refugee status and their applications are now pending decisions from the Egyptian authorities. UNHCR does not have access to any Eritreans in other places of detention across Egypt.” See Eritrean refugees from Egypt
Background information Geography 1.01 The State of Eritrea (Permanent Committee on Geographical Names) [81a] is a country in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Sudan to the west, and Ethiopia to the south. In area the country covers 117,400 sq km (45,300 sq miles). The capital city is Asmara, other main cities being the port of Massawa, Keren, and Barentu. [1a] (Eritrea) (EuropaOnline)
1.02 A 2005 estimate by the United Nations for the population of Eritrea stands at 4,401,000 people, with the 2002 census recording a population of 4,298,269. The UN estimate comprises 2,161,000 males to 2,241,000 females, with a median age of 17.4 years and a 3.06 per cent growth rate. [53a] The United States State Department report on country human rights practices for 2007, Eritrea report, published 11 March 2008, (USSD report for 2007) gives the population as “approximately 3.6 million”. [4m](p1, Introduction) The CIA World Factbook profile of Eritrea gives a July 2008 population estimate of 5,028,475. [28a](p2) There are 12 spoken languages: Ethnologue lists English, Standard Arabic, and Tigrinya as official languages. [59a]
1.03 There are nine main ethnic groupings in Eritrea. [25b](Mebrat Tzehaie) There is one further ethnic grouping, the Djerberti, Muslims of the central highlands, but it is not recognised as an official ethnic group by the Eritrean government. [25b](Mebrat Tzehaie) See Ethnic groups
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1.04 Eritrea, political map, June 2005, from the main United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) website at
1.05 Further maps of Eritrea can be found via the Perry-Castaneda collection website, the University of Texas at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/eritrea.html.
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