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Eritrea reprimands US over latest travel ban

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

ASMARA, Eritrea - US recent travel ban on Eritrea violates the policy of consultative engagement, authorities have said, adding "it's unfriendly act eroding confidence".

Eritrea was one of four African countries that were slapped with a travel ban by the US Homeland Security, joining a total of 13 countries to suffer the fate.

But it was placed on the second tier of countries in which “overseas issuance of immigrant visas is suspended” for certain of “their nationals”.

In a statement on Sunday, Asmara said it had consistently opposed “automatic asylum” invoked by certain nations for “strategic depopulation” against Eritrea.

The travel ban imposed in bad faith

In fact, authorities said, Eritrea lodged legitimate protests against previous US Administrations that followed similar policies in 2004 and 2009 respectively.

Although couched [suspension], in purely technical terms, Eritrea said, it singles out Eritrea without justification to send a negative signal.

The government added: "We are dismayed at this unfriendly act which runs counter to the Administration’s pronounced policy of constructive engagement to redress past wrongs."

Saleh Mohammed, the country's foreign affairs minister, termed the move "unacceptable" adding that "We will, however, not expel the US ambassador."

Nations failed to meet requirements

Besides Eritrea, the US Homeland security department also restricted visa issuance for Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania in the latest crackdown.

The four nations are predominantly Islamic, a move that has raised questions about President Donald Trump's attitude towards Muslims.

"These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out," acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters on Friday.

The US said it would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar.

Sudanese and Tanzanian nationals will no longer be allowed to apply for "diversity visas", which are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the US.

Mr. Wolf said non-immigrant visas given to people for temporary stays - including visitors, those doing business or people seeking medical treatment - would not be impacted by the new rules.

Initial ban condemned as discriminatory

The initial ban in 2017 restricted travel from some Muslim-majority countries as part of Trump's plan to "kick out radical Islamic terrorists".

It has already affected more than 135 million people — many of them Christians — from seven countries, the New York Times reported.

Chad, Libya, and Somalia were affected. The executive order halted the plans of thousands of Somali refugees living in camps in Kenya who were about to travel to the US.

Somalia remains the most affected and with the increased terror activities by Al-Shabaab militants, the ban could even last longer.

Democrats condemn Trump

Trump's administration has been put on a task over alleged "discrimination and xenophobia" although he has often dismissed the allegations.

Democrats have come out guns blazing, accusing the Republican president, who is facing impeachment, of causing divisions and chaos.

“Trump’s travel bans have never been rooted in national security — they’re about discriminating against people of color,” Senator Kamala Harris, the former Democratic presidential candidate.

“They are, without a doubt, rooted in anti-immigrant, white supremacist ideologies."

Two Democrats still in the race also weighed in. Elizabeth Warren described the measure as a “racist, xenophobic Muslim ban.” Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called it “a disgrace.”

It's not clear if Eritrea will appeal to the latest ban, despite the fact that President Isaias Afwerki has instigated radical reforms in the country.


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