Sunday, August 3, 2014

Western countries 'to blame' for African refugee outflow-Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate

Ethiopian Prince Asserate says Western democracies have themselves to blame for thousands of African refugees arriving.
As European countries face an influx of thousands of Africans fleeing from their home countries, one member of a former ruling African royal family is blaming the recipient countries for the problem.

Ethiopian Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate says in large part, Western democracies have themselves to blame for the huge numbers of Africans who are leaving the continent seeking a better life - usually in Europe.
Dragana Mrkaja and Kassahun Negewo report.

As a member of the last Ethiopian imperial family, Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate was studying in Germany when the Ethiopian Revolution in the 1970s made his return to the country impossible.

He says he was the first Ethiopian to have his passport revoked - an act that eventually took him from refugee status to German citizenship.
Since then, Prince Asserate has become a human rights advocate, fighting for the rights of asylum seekers from Ethiopia and other African countries.

According to recent United Nations figures, almost 50,000 Ethiopians had fled their country to seek asylum elsewhere.

At the same time, Ethiopia was said to be hosting about 400,000 refugees from other countries.

In an interview with SBS Radio's Amharic program, Prince Asserate says the real reason behind Africa's massive refugee numbers is being overlooked.

"Unfortunately, the Europeans and most of the Western countries believe that migrants grow from the earth like flowers and trees. They never ask themselves, who are the greatest producers of migrants in this world? The answer to that, as far as we are concerned, is African tyrants who do not allow their people to be able to lead a normal life in their own country."

Prince Asserate cites the former Libyan ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, as an example of what he means by a tyrannical leader.

 He says a meeting of Afro-European leaders in 2009 showed how Western leaders were initially not hesitant in their support for Colonel Gaddafi.

"If you go back and look at the pictures, you will see that the Prime Minister of Italy, Berlusconi, kissed his (Gaddafi's) hand in front of all the cabinet. The European heads of state were like children, pushing each other around to be near Gaddafi. And what was the outcome of it all? Less than two years later, some of the them sent troops to get rid of him."
Prince Asserate says for economic reasons, Western countries have been ignoring the misdeeds of African tyrants for years.

And he says it's future generations of Africans who are paying the price.

"It means nothing more, that you can be the greatest criminal on God's earth, as long as you are in power, we Western democrats will come crawling on our knees to worship you. And God help you if you lose the power."

Prince Asserate says Western countries shouldn't act surprised when large numbers of African asylum seekers and migrants arrive, fleeing from tyrannical rulers.

"Western countries should not be amazed to find that today, thousands, tomorrow ten-thousand and the day after, hundreds of thousands of African migrants will go all over this world in search of a place where they can live in peace, where they can get a job and where they can live as human beings with dignity."

Prince Asserate suggests Western countries should simply be withholding aid from African leaders who suppress the rights of their people.

He says this is more likely to lead to the downfall of brutal leaders - and in turn reduce the numbers of people seeking refuge outside their countries.

 "If European and Western countries want less migrants coming to their countries, let them change their horrid policies and let them say that we are democrats and unfortunately, the money we have comes from the people who are taxed by us and our people do not want to help and keep alive African tyrants. Unless they do that, I'm afraid numbers of migrants all over the world coming from Africa is going to reach not going to be counted by hundreds of thousands, but some day even by millions."