Ethiopians 'seek asylum en masse in South Korea'

  • 12 August 2013

Two-thirds of a group of young professional Ethiopians who went for training in South Korea have stayed to seek asylum, it's reported.

Forty chose to apply for political asylum on the grounds of "gross human rights violations", while just 19 returned home, according to London-based Ethiomedia website. The pro-opposition news outlet quotes one of the 40, Sisay Woldegabriel, as complaining of Muslims being "brutalized by police and government forces". The group is apparently staying at Henan Refugee Camp and Ethiomedia suggests they've been welcomed as a result of Ethiopia's support for Seoul - in the form of thousands of troops - during the Korean War. Three years ago, a 38-year-old Ethiopian became the first refugee to be awarded South Korean citizenship.

While Ethiopia is regarded as one of Africa's most stable countries, tensions between the Orthodox Christian majority and Muslims - who make up a third of its population - have grown in recent years. The government has cracked down on what it sees as Islamic extremists, leading to protests. Thousands demonstrated last week after the arrest of 28 people on terror charges, leading to reports of police beatings and widespread arrests.

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