US, Canada and Australia do not offer ‘free’ asylum visas to Ethiopians fleeing Tigray conflict

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A post shared on Facebook hundreds of times in Ethiopia claims that the United States, Canada and Australia are issuing “free” asylum visas to Ethiopians affected by the ongoing conflict in the country. But the assertion is false; all three countries denied that was the case. Additionally, AFP Fact Check has established that the Telegram channel that is supposedly linked to asylum claims is actually promoting a “fake Canadian visa lottery.”

The post was posted to Facebook on January 31, 2022 and has since been shared over 400 times.

Screenshot of fake post, taken February 7, 2022

The message, written in Afaan Oromoo, translates to: “The following three countries offer free immigration opportunities to all interested Ethiopian nationals in recognition of the prevailing situation in Ethiopia.”

He adds, “To be considered for the opportunity, please comment below this post by selecting the name of one of the three countries followed by .com.”

Ethiopian federal forces have been fighting rebels in Tigray since November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to the region after accusing the rebels of attacking military camps.

According to AFP, the fighting has killed thousands and pushed many more to the brink of starvation. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently said that at least 108 civilians were killed in airstrikes in Tigray in January 2022.

The post, along with images of the flags of Canada, the United States and Australia, asks Facebook users to share the information with five other people or groups within their circles. To complete the application process, the publication directs applicants to a Telegram channel called “Canada Viza Lottery 752K (sic)”.

However, the link is a scam. In addition, the three countries have denied issuing “free” asylum visas to Ethiopians.

clickbait post

The post is designed to entice Facebook users to click and comment, thereby boosting engagement.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) – the country’s national immigration service – has confirmed that the application is fabricated and that the Telegram channel linked to the post is not associated with Canada or the Canadian Embassy. in Ethiopia.

“The message is linked to a deceptive Telegram channel promoting a fake Canadian visa application site,” an IRCC representative told AFP.

“It should be noted that Canada does not issue free visas to Ethiopians seeking asylum in Canada on social media or via Telegram.”

The US and Australian embassies in Ethiopia have also denied that their countries are issuing asylum visas to Ethiopians affected by the 14-month internal conflict.

“There are no free immigration visas offered to Ethiopians,” Julia Niblett, spokeswoman for the Australian Embassy in Ethiopia, told AFP.

“Anyone applying for a visa to enter and stay in Australia is required to meet all legislative requirements for the grant of the visa, including, where applicable, the visa application fee,” she said.

The US Embassy in Ethiopia also denied offering free asylum visas.

“This is a false claim,” a spokesperson told AFP Fact Check.

“At the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, routine processing of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas currently remains suspended. The consular section only handles emergency visa cases and currently does so in a very limited way. While we look forward to the resumption of normal consular operations, we cannot yet say when that will be,” the spokesperson added.

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