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Ethiopia Stops Automatic Asylum to Eritreans

For years, Ethiopia had an “open-door” policy towards refugees from countries such as South Sudan and Eritrea, earning it widespread acclaim among international donors. But according to the United Nations and humanitarian aid groups, Ethiopia changed its policy in late January without making an official announcement. The government no longer offers automatic asylum for Eritreans trying to flee their home country. The Ethiopian Agency for Refugees and Returnee Affairs told donors and aid groups earlier this month that the previous approach resulted in a “high influx of unaccompanied minors, illegal migrants and others who do not fulfill the criteria laid [out] for refugee status determination under the international instruments,” according to a letter seen by VOA dated April 9. Activists and aid groups say the new policy limits options for Eritreans trying to avoid forced conscription into Eritrea’s national service program.