Fear of the Eritrean authorities is the most common reason for applying for protection.
Most of the cases from Eritrea in 2022 was requests for reversal. UNE rarely reverses UDI’s decisions. Many applications are rejected because we do not believe the applicants are Eritrean.
The most common topics for consideration
UDI grants protection in very many cases from Eritrea. In the cases we consider, a key question is often whether or not the applicant is Eritrean. Whether the applicant can give a credible statement about having lived in Eritrea for all or much of his/her life is an important part of our assessment.
Some Eritreans have never been to Eritrea, but have lived in another country such as Ethiopia or Sudan. Many applicants state that they cannot go back to Ethiopia or Sudan because they have never had lawful residence there. They regard themselves as Eritreans, and believe that the situation in Eritrea is so bad that they will be persecuted if they have to go there. We reject many appeals because we believe the applicant is not Eritrean, or that he/she has not stayed illegally in for example Ethiopia or Sudan.
Because we believe many applicants are not Eritrean, we cannot say that they have to go back to Eritrea. In many cases, we do not know where the applicants are born, have grown up or have lived before. That means we cannot decide which country they should return to. In many cases we do not have enough information to decide which country a person is a citizen of.
In many cases, applicants asks us to reconsider their cases. They often present passports issued by the Eritrean embassy in Stockholm. From the day the passport was issued, the applicant has become a citizen of Eritrea in the identity shown on the passport. UNE believes that an Eritrean passport issued after an applicant has sought protection does not necessarily mean that the person was an Eritrean citizen when they sought protection in Norway. When assessing the risk of return, we consider which country the applicant was a citizen of when they sought protection.
In many cases we find that the person holds another citizenship/home country in addition to the Eritrean one. In such cases we consider whether the person can return to the other country of which they are a citizen.
UNE’s assessment of identity and documents
Everyone who applies for asylum in Norway is obliged to assist in clarifying their identity. Applicants who have a passport must hand this in. Other documents may also be accepted as proof of identity. Applicants who do not have ID documents are obliged to do their best to obtain such documents.
We conclude that an applicant's identity is either substantiated or not substantiated:
Substantiated identity: We believe that it is probable that the applicant is who he says he is. Documents and the applicant's statement can help to substantiate their identity. As a rule, the identity of the applicant must be substantiated before a residence permit can be granted.
Not substantiated: We believe that it is not probable that the applicant is who he says he is. This is the case when the applicant has not helped to establish who he is and where he comes from, by, for example, providing incorrect information. The reason we believe the identity has not been substantiated must always be included in the decision.
In cases where we maintain the UDI's decision, it is usually not concluded whether the applicant's identity is substantiated or not.
We believe the ID documents from Eritrea are unreliable, among other things because there is no central population register in Eritrea. The authorities in the country therefore have limited possibilities to control the information in the ID documents. In Eritrea, it is normal for the inhabitants to have ID documents and to carry these documents on them. The most common document is a national ID card.
We want applicants to submit all the ID documents they have. They may help to substantiate the applicant’s claim that he/she is from Eritrea.
Eritrean nationals in Norway can be issued a national ID card and passport at the Eritrean embassy in Stockholm. We believe that the documents issued via the embassy in Stockholm are unreliable, among other things because a person can be issued ID documents without having lived in Eritrea.
The most common reasons for reversing a decision
We rarely grant protection when UDI has declined an application. We grant a few permits where we believe the applicant is an Eritrean citizen and that he or she risks persecution upon return to Eritrea. This may be because the person has left the country illegally or due to issues in the national service. Eritrea was involved in the war in the Tigray region in Ethiopia. This also affected conditions within Eritrea, including through increased mobilisation to the military/national service. You can read about the mobilisation to the war in Ethiopia in this response from Landinfo (external link). These are factors that are considered in assessing whether a person is entitled to protection. Some are granted permission on humanitarian grounds. Then it is usually due to serious health problems or children's connection to Norway.
Common sources used in case processing
We use many different sources. Much of the information we use has been collected by Landinfo, a unit that prepares reports on topics that are important to the UDI and UNE. Recommendations from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are also important. We also read reports from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), and keep up to date with reports in the media and from other organisations.
Of particular relevance to cases from the country
Many Eritreans who have received a final rejection from UNE do not leave Norway. Therefore, UNE considers many requests for reversals from Eritreans who are still in Norway. A few of these Eritreans have been granted a residence permit because they have engaged in political activity in Norway that makes it dangerous for them to go to Eritrea. Others have started a family and had children, and have been granted a residence permit because the children have lived in Norway for a long time.