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The Dutch government voiced concern Tuesday over a visit by an Eritrean presidential advisor to The Netherlands, where large numbers of refugees have sought shelter after fleeing the repressive nation.
The visit by Yemane Gebreab, advisor to Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, “is awkward,” the Dutch cabinet said.
Gebreab is due to address a youth congress of Eritrea’s sole political party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), taking place from Thursday to Monday, the group said on its Facebook page.
The Dutch government said in a statement that it “is concerned by the situation of human rights in Eritrea and considers the visit by Mr Gebreab to be awkward, since a top Eritrean official will be addressing Eritreans who have left their country”.
Eritrean refugees make up the second largest group of refugees taken in by The Netherlands in recent years, after Syrians, and some have voiced fears of being intimidated.
Eritrea researcher Mirjam van Reisen, from the University of Tilberg, told AFP Gebreab had arrived Monday “a day earlier than expected”.
“He’s organising the youth part of the party and also more generally the long arm which includes the churches, the women’s organisations,” she said.
“The purpose of these organisations is to spy on anyone who does not agree with the dictatorship.”
Isaias’s regime is accused of jailing thousands of political prisoners since he came to power in 1993 in the Horn of Africa nation, one of the world’s poorest countries.
No general elections have…