Eritrean players offered UN protection in Tanzania

Thirteen Eritrean players who feature for Red Sea are under UN protection. The players failed to fly back to Asmara when the Cecafa Cup came to an end last month

Thirteen Red Sea players are seeking asylum in Tanzania after they failed to fly back to Asmara when the Cecafa Cup came to an end last month.

The Home Affairs Ministry spokesman said that the players are under UN protection and the eligibility committee in Tanzania already interviewed them.

"The players are still under the protection of UNHCR until the fate on their request for asylum is determined. We expect the decision soon." he told Daily News.

This is not the first time the Eritrean players have sought asylum in foreign countries. They managed to pull such an act twice while they were participating in international tournaments in Kenya.

In 2009 during the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup held in Nairobi, 12 players went missing in Kenya. In 2007 six players ‘disappeared’ in Tanzania and in other cases one or two would go missing.

In May 2006, four players of the Eritrean football club, Red Sea, who were in Kenya to play Tusker in a Caf Champions League match, defected in Nairobi after evading government escorts assigned to them.

In case the UNHCR reject reasons given by the players, they will be deported back to Eritrea.