1. Information on the drafting of 11 year old boys, of Somali origin, into the Ethiopian army. 2. Information regarding the mistreatment of Ethiopians in the refugee camps in Djibouti. [ETH1460]

1. At the present time, there is no information available to the IRBDC regarding the drafting of 11 year old boys of Somali origin, into the Ethiopian army.

2. In Djibouti there are two main ethnic groups, the Issa, who are of Somali origin, and the Afars who are of Ethiopian origin. [The Europa World Year Book 1989, (London: Europa Publications Ltd.., 1989), p. 881.] Since the early 1960s, there has been much tension between the two groups. [ibid.]

In 1975 about 550 Eritrean refugees arrived in Djibouti and have been living in the Djiboutiville slum of Balbella. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) began assisting these refugees in 1978. There were several thousand Ethiopian Afars who sought refuge in Djibouti in 1976 and were afforded assistance from the local population and the French government. Later in 1978, they began to receive UNHCR assistance at Dikhil camp. Reports that some of the Afar refugees were involved in armed opposition against the Ethiopian government had created much tension between the local population and the refugees in Djibouti. [ "Country Reports on Five Key Asylum Countries in Eastern and Southern Africa", Migration News, (Geneva: International Catholic Migration Commission, 1987), pp. 24-25.]

The largest group of Ethiopians to enter Djibouti were Ogaden war refugees between 1977-79. Most of these refugees were ethnic Somali. [ibid. p. 26] There are unconfirmed reports that some Ethiopians who attempted to enter Djibouti through Afar lands, were killed by local tribesmen. However, the majority of the war refugees were placed in 2 UNHCR camps; Sabieh and Dikhil. [ibid. p. 26]

According to the UNHCR, about 1,800 urban Ethiopians entered Djibouti in an attempt to avoid military conscription, political persecution and the lack of economic opportunities. They are living clandestinely in Djibouti. This group, known as "political refugees", must qualify for refugee status on an individual basis. [ibid. p. 26]

Between 1984 and 1985 about 10,000 displaced drought victims were placed into As Eyla camp. The Djibouti government did not consider this group as refugees. There was minimal assistance provided at the camp and in 1985, it was closed down entirely. This was viewed as the pivotal point in Djibouti's change of attitude towards the situation in the country. An initially sympathetic attitude in the 1970s was eventually transformed into a sense of frustration at the continued burden of refugee care. [Ibid. p.26.]

In April 1984 the Djiboutian and Ethiopian governments agreed on a voluntary repatriation program for Ethiopian refugees. The UNHCR was charged with overseeing the program. At that time, there were approximately 35,000 refugees in Djibouti. [The Europa World Year Book 1989, p.881.] By December 1984 it was estimated that 16,000 had returned to Ethiopia. [ibid.]

UNHCR staff, numerous non-government organizations (NGO) staff and refugees speaking off-the-record, suggest that the repatriation programme was not entirely voluntary. It was suspected that the government appointed head of Ali Sabieh camp pressured and coerced the refugees through arrests, imprisonment and threats to encourage them to return to Ethiopia. [Migration News, p. 26.] "UN Body Accused of Failing Refugees" in Times of London,3 February 1987, also addresses the issue of forced repatriation.

There are an estimated 50-150,000 illegal aliens in Djibouti, and their presence exacerbates the sixty percent unemployment rate in Djibouti. [U.S. Committee for Refugees, Beyond the Headlines: Refugees in the Horn of Africa, (Washington, January 1988), p. 26.] The refugees and the illegal immigrants are often seen as one and the same by the government, the media and the general public. [Migration News, p. 26.] Therefore complaints regarding the rising crime rate, unemployment, deteriorating government services and other social problems are directed against both groups of foreigners indiscriminately. [ibid.] Fear of being recognized as foreigners keeps many refugees from utilizing government services; schools and health clinics. [Migration News, p. 28.]

The government routinely orders round-ups called "toughs", where the police detain aliens for deportation, but permit those who claim to be refugees to present their Djibouti government issued refugee registration cards. [U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988, (Washington: U.S. Department of State, 1989), p.98.] In one incident in 1987, at least four persons who had been granted refugee status were deported to Ethiopia, along with approximately 100 illegal aliens, for demonstrating against the strict application of the Convention definition and the denial of refugee status to those who could not individually prove "persecution". [Beyond the Headlines, pp.30-31.] Amnesty International reports that seven Ethiopians with refugee status were deported in this incident in June 1987. [Amnesty International Report 1988, p. 37.]

The recurrence of drought and the political situation in Ethiopia caused some refugees to return to Djibouti, and by June 1987 the number of official refugees was 17,200. [The Europa World Year Book 1989, p.881.] In mid-1986, the Djibouti government resumed pressure on Ethiopian refugees to return home. It issued a circular advising the refugees that Djibouti did not have the resources to facilitate the refugees indefinitely; that permanent resettlement was no longer an option, that Ethiopia had granted them amnesty to return and that the UNHCR would assist them. [ C. Legum, ed. African Contemporary Record, Annual Survey ans Documents 1986-1987., vol. X1X, (New York: Africana Publishing Company., 1987), p. B280]

Originally there were two main camps in Djibouti; Dikhil and Ali Sabieh. Ali Sabieh camp was closed down in 1986 and the refugees were moved to Dikhil because the government found the former camp to have been too easily accessible to potential refugees across the border. ["Djibouti Moves Its Refugees", New African, May 1986.] All refugees were ordered to sign up by September 1, 1986. Food and water services were terminated at Dikhil camp at the end of 1986, when several dozen Ethiopians were forcibly deported to Ethiopia. Officially recognized refugees, mostly of Somali origin, were permitted to reside at Obock camp. [African Contemporary Record, p.B281.]
This new camp is in an isolated and inaccessible part of Afar lands. [New African, May 1986.] From 1986 to 1987 the Djibouti government estimated that 2000 refugees were voluntarily repatriated to Ethiopia. [The Europa World Year Book 1989, p. 881.]

The Djibouti government announced tighter controls on border crossings and identification papers in 1987. Ethiopia and Djibouti agreed in February 1988 to control border movements. [ibid.]