Family in Norway fears Ethiopia return
by Lyndsey Smith
The Foreigner (Oslo) – Tewelde and Saba have lived in Norway for five years and have two children, Haniel (4), and Nathan (1). They have now been told that they must return to Ethiopia and have chosen not to leave voluntarily.
“We came because of problems with the authorities, so anything can happen if we go back now”, Mr Habtom Araya told NRK.
Tewelde is worried that he and his wife could be put in prison, tortured, or killed if they return, as they do not support the regime. They fear their children will be made orphans.
They currently have a lawsuit against the Norwegian state, among some 440 Ethiopians to do this. Girum Zeleke, who teaches social work at Stavanger University, is representing them.
“The situation of human rights has been deteriorating in Ethiopia. The regime exerts violence, torture and murder on its own people. This drives people to come to Norway, people who fear for their own lives,” he said.
Tewelde fears that the police could come at any time to force them to leave. He, along with the others, is waiting for a response from the Attorney General about their lawsuit.
Norway was the first country to in Europe to sign a return agreement with Ethiopia. Girum Zeleke is hoping that the lawsuit will help people to stay.
“I have great difficulty accepting that it [forced return] will happen, and we will do what we can to ensure that it does not take place.”
Deputy Minister of Justice Pål K. Lønnseth understands the children rouse peoples’ engagement, but stressed it is important to “avoid facilitating a regulatory framework in which children can become a tool to get to stay here, when the family did not meet the requirements for this intitially.”