ERITREA: Denying Ethiopian Delegation Entry Goes Against Peace Treaty, Church Says

ASMARA, MARCH 6, 2020 (CISA) – The Catholic Church in Eritrea has expressed displeasure at the denied entry of a Church delegation from Ethiopia into the country, terming it as a setback to the peace process between the two countries.

Berhaneyesus Cardinal Souraphiel, and a delegation from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) headed for the Golden Jubilee Celebration of the Catholic Cathedral of Mary Kidanemehret in Asmara were on February 22 denied entry into Eritrea.

“This expectation of ours derives from the fact that, in the wake of the reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the citizens of both States enter each other’s country with no formal visas obtained beforehand,” reads a statement signed by Abba Tesfaghiorghis Kiflom, General Secretary of the Eritrean Catholic Secretariat.

Since the end of the border conflict between the two countries in March 2018, citizens from the countries have been travelling in and out of the country. It is in that regard that the church in Eritrea refrained from asking for entry visa for the guests.

“Our own experience in fact is that, each time we go to Ethiopia, the entry permission is printed on our passports only upon our arrival at the Ethiopian Capital’s airport. We have also witnessed that the same parameters are applied with regard to the Ethiopian visitors coming to Eritrea,” they said.

“Our Ethiopian guests had received the entry permit stamped on their passports, valid for one month. This notwithstanding, most disconcerting for us, as Eritreans, was the fact that they were made to wait at the airport of Asmara from Saturday, 22 February 5.15p.m. to Sunday 23 February, 12.00 noon, 2020, to eventually return home right from there,” it adds.

The statement says the Church in Eritrea still remains in the dark as to the occurrence of February 22 at the international airport of Asmara.