The Uganda government has finally granted sixteen former members of the Eritrean national football team refugee status. The players vanished from their camp at Sky Hotel in Ntinda in December last year shortly after the CECAFA championship and applied for asylum.
They include Samuel Alazar, Yohannes Nega, Essy Kiflom, Yuhannes Tilahun, Merhawi Kesete, Hermon Tecleab, Medhanie Redie, Yosief Ghide, Tesfalem Tekle, Fitsum Kelati, Mekonen Kibrom, Daniel Alexander, and Kuluberhan Gltensae.
Others are Merhawi haile, Aman Habteslus, Amir Osman and their team doctor Kizrom Teame Abraham. Now, Apollo David Kazungu, the Commissioner for Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister says that the Refugee Eligibility Committee had found the group’s claims valid and granted them refugee status.
Kazungu says that two of the players who had applied for asylum returned home, but the rest refused for fear of being conscripted into military training after the CECAFA tournament.
Despite the fact that the Eritreans players have been granted asylum they have not been relocated to the resettlement camp, because they prefer to stay around Kampala. Kazungu explains that its government’s policy not to force any refugee into the settlement camps, adding that it is okay for the Eritreans to stay in an urban setting like Kampala if they can afford.
In 2009, members of the Eritrean National Team vanished in Tanzania after the CECAFA tournament. Many of them have since relocated to Texas in the United