Swedish Radio's Africa correspondent Samuel Larsson in place at the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
"Peace will not contribute to democracy"
Published at 06.38; 2018.09.26
The peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia has not stopped Eritreans from fleeing the dictatorship in their homeland. Indications are such that the number of people leaving to Ethiopia since the border between the countries was opened is now instead increasing sharply.
At the reception center in Indaba Gunna, Ethiopia, a few miles from Eritrea, it is full of Eritreans who have reached the border the latest hours, sought asylum and are now waiting to register and get refugee status.
We asked about the quantity, how peace and the open border have influenced the stream of refugees that chooses to leave the dictatorship in Eritrea, but the issue is sensitive and no one except the Ethiopian refugee authority ARRA is able to talk to the media. And there is no information to get.
But others in Indaba Gunna tell us what they see. We give a lift to a policeman telling us that today's full reception center is nothing compared to yesterday, there was a long queue out on the street then.
A driver at one of the many aid organizations in the area tells over a lunch that the number of asylum seekers here has increased from earlier around 150 a day to 1500 a day now.
Indications are that many Eritreans now take the opportunity, fearing that the possibility of an open border will soon be gone again.
Diplomatic sources in Addis Ababa state that after peace, the issue of the Eritrean refugees is more controversial than ever before for the Ethiopian government. A rushing refugee stream disturbs the image of harmony in the Horn of Africa, as leaders in both countries now want to create.
- He's like Hitler, says a young Eritrean at a cafe in a nearby city, and refers to Eritrea's dictator Isaias Afewerki.
The man and his friends are in Ethiopia as tourists, but have an understanding of those in their generation who choose to seek asylum abroad.
"Peace will not contribute to democracy in Eritrea. People will continue to flee in ever greater numbers, and Afewerki will be left to God Himself to pick him up, they summarize.
Samuel Larsson, Indaba Gunna, Ethiopia