On 10 March 2015, three schools of the Eritrean Catholic Church in Kassala jointly held a highly colourful end of school year ceremony attended by invited religious leaders, Eritrean and Ethiopian community dignitaries as well as the director of private schools in the Kassala region, Mr. Omar Mohammed Khalifa. Included in the event was the graduation of 12th graders from the school which has so far graduated 15 rounds. 

       WedSherrifey 1

After a welcoming address by Memhir Weldhiwet Keleta, two students speaking in Arabic and Tigrinia successfully led the ceremony that lasted for four hours. Students of the three schools presented folkloric dances, songs, dramas, and other educational and entertainment programmes in Arabic, Tigre, Tigrinia, Bilen, Kunama, Nara and English languages.

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Presented in between the entertainments were messages of the teaching staff, the Director of Private Schools in Kassala region, and Father Ghebrai Bedemariam, the Director of Catholic Church schools in Kassala.

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The message of the teaching staff of the three schools, presented in Arabic by Mr. Alem Zerai, and in Tigrinia by Mr. Woldeyesus Habte, urged families to be always watchful of the educational progress of their children because children spend more time at home than at school.

They stated that the 20124-2015 academic year started with 620 students (247 in elementary classes and 207 in middle school classes) and that the final number was 565 of whom 88.3% were promoted, 268 of them girls.

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In his message, Mr. Omar Mohammed Khalifa said Eritreans and the Sudanese are “just one family” and that his office will continue to provide all the support needed to the Eritrean community schools in his country.

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Father Ghebrai Bedemariam warmly thanks the Kassala regional administration for their continued support to the Eritrean Catholic Church schools which were started when the refugee phenomenon increased about 30 years ago. He said this noble effort of giving educational opportunities to refugee children of all religions and origins will continue until the need is there. Father Ghebrai also mentioned the contributions of the late Father Marino to the education of Eritrean children in the Sudan and he promised that the wishes of the late Father Marino will be sustained by his colleagues in the Catholic Church.

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                 12th graders who are soon to take part in school matriculation exams.

The colourful ceremonies ended with granting of prizes to outstanding students from the three schools.


Mike Smith, Chairperson, Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea, speaks to the press after presenting his report to the 28th Session at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

16 March 2015 – A four-month United Nations investigation into the human rights situation in Eritrea has found “very clear patterns” of violations and abuses, according to a report delivered today at the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.

“Most Eritreans have no hope for their future,” said Mike Smith, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, which despite not being granted permission to visit Eritrea, collected testimony from more than 500 members of the Eritrean diaspora.

Presenting the Commission’s interim report, Council, Mr. Smith said that in Eritrea national service is universal and of an indefinite duration. From the age of 17, Eritreans could expect to spend their lives in national service, struggling to live on less than two dollars a day.

Meanwhile, the Government has curtailed basic freedoms to the extent that, “individuals feel that they have hardly any choice with regard to the main decisions in their lives: where to live, what career to pursue, when to marry or who to worship,” he noted in anews releaseon the report.

For Eritreans, Mr. Smith said, “detention is an ordinary fact of life, experienced by an inordinate number of individuals – men and women, old and young, including children.” Detention centres range from official to the unofficial, located above ground or underground. Some have metal containers where prisoners are kept in extreme heat.

“Once in one of them, there is a likelihood that you will be subject to torture to extract a confession or to simply punish behaviours,” he added.

Torture is widespread, both in detention and during national service. Some Eritreans interviewed by the Commission had been beaten or tortured simply for asking for medicine, or for drinking water without permission.

Mr. Smith pointed out that these violations take place against a backdrop of the so-called “no war, no peace” situation related to Eritrea’s unresolved border issues with neighbouring countries.

“This has become the pretext for almost all the State’s actions that generate and perpetuate human rights violations in the country,” he said. “It is an expression abusively used by the Eritrean authorities to disregard international human rights law.”

Under this pretext, the entire society has been militarised, the Constitution has never been implemented and there is no rule of law, according to the news release, which added that no one was being held accountable for human rights violations.

The Commission of Inquiry, established by the Human Rights Council, is examining a broad range of alleged violations since Eritrea gained independence. It will present a written report of its findings to the Council in June 2015.


Also four refugees from Eritrea who participated in Frankfurt Lufthansa Half Marathon. For them, running was "a place of safety" long a.


Half Marathon

© NORBERT MÜLLERRelaxed at the premiere: Abraham Hanibal, Avet and Anday (from left) with Pastor Thomas Stephan (center) at the Frankfurt Half Marathon.

Long distance runners know their resting heart rate, their body fat, their average and best times. From Avet, Hanibal, Anday and Abraham know their caregivers do not even know how old they are. So far, four have made for quite other things to worry about than their level of fitness. And yet they are now at the start of the Lufthansa Half Marathon, along with 5500 other athletes.

The Africans are refugees, they come from Eritrea and live for about six months, the Giuseppe Bruno House, a transitional housing the workers' welfare in Frankfurt. Together with Pastor Thomas Stephan and their supervisor Robert Gilcher of the Protestant Church in Niederrad they have come on Sunday to start the woods stadium to take a good 21 kilometers covered distance in attack.

In Eritrea, played football Avet

Pastor Stephen knows that there is something peculiar to the refugees to participate in such a sporting event. Where they come from, people rarely run for pleasure quickly, but rather to seek safety from danger. Stephan is even participate in the race; he wears a shirt with the logo of "Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe". Managers Gilcher has brought a flag of this ecclesial charity. He wants to cheer on the Eritreans from the side of the track.

Avet, Hanibal, Anday Abraham and have never run a half marathon.Nevertheless, Avet says he feels "loose". He played football before he fled from his home. In Eritrea, there is neither expression nor freedom of assembly. Who was called up for military service, must expect to spend his life in the army.There are always conflicts with neighboring countries, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

All make it to the finish

What exactly did the four men have been through before they arrived in August in Giessen Erstaufnahmelager not know Gilcher: "Something is coming out with time. Then, photos are shown by the family or friends who have been kidnapped, or there will be other terrible things told. "In Frankfurt, the four have been kindly received. Not only the Protestant community in Niederrad, and the Association of Friends of Nature, and other supporters would have believed her, reported Gilcher.

They also came to the sport. At the invitation of the "Spiridon", which aligns the Lufthansa Half Marathon, they are already jogged with the running club, and when Silvesterlauf than six miles long, they also went to the start. Therefore, it has enabled the men of the country club to compete without fee for the half marathon.

Shortly after ten clock it gets serious for the athletes. In six groups divided, they go on the run course that runs through Niederrad and Sachsenhausen. Each has a chip fixed to the shoe, which measures the time. Anday is the fastest of the four Africans: he covers the distance in one hour and 24 minutes. But his three teammates make it into the top fifth of the participants. Perhaps they make the courage for the marathon, which is still before them and whose destination is a peaceful life.


By EPDP Information Office

In a statement released on 6 March 2015, a specialized committee of the UN Human Rights Council criticized the Eritrean regime for not respecting women’s rights that are well enshrined in a convention that the Asmara regime itself has already signed.

The committee scrutinizing failures in the implementation the Convention to Eliminate all forms Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) discussed women’s situation in Eritrea. Also discussed was a report from the Eritrean delegation at the meeting that was presented on 26 February 2015.

        UN on Womens rightsDr Daniel Rezene represents Eritrean Law Society at Geneva meeting on women’s rights

Concluding observations of the Committee on Discrimination against Women contain serious concerns about the absence of rule of law in Eritrea with an elected National Assembly and fully implemented constitution which the basic necessities for protection and promotion of human rights, like women’s rights stated in the Convention (CEDAW).  

The committee could not expect any improvement in the Eritrean women’s situation before steps are taken to the rule of law in the country.  

Prevalence of sexual abuse of women in the Eritrean army, absence of criminal action against sex offenders, the open-ended “national service” that force women and families to escape from the regime, and the presence of small arms at every corner in the country were mentioned among the concerns of the committee that believed they should be addressed “as a matter of high priority”. (See link

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=901&Lang=en  - scroll down to see Eritrea)

Dr. Daniel Rezene, an Eritrean democracy and human rights activist residing in Switzerland, actively participated in the discussions and made written and oral presentations representing the Eritrean Law Society (ELS).  Below are excerpts from the CEDAW committee meetings concluding observations and the oral presentation made by Dr. Daniel Rezene at one of the committee meeting:

From CEDAW Observations:

6: The Committee considers that the indefinite national service, the ineffective implementation of the 1997 Constitution and the suspension of the National Assembly, have resulted in a deterioration of the rule of law and resulted in a serious refugee crisis which pose a challenge to the implementation of the Convention. Therefore the Committee urges the State party to implement the recommendations contained in the present concluding observations as a matter of high priority.

8(e): Concerned about [t]he proliferation of small arms and the accessibility of firearms to individuals in the framework of the national service and their impact on the security of women.

9(b): Prevent, investigate, prosecute in criminal courts, and punish all cases of violence against women and girls in the national service and at the Sawa Military Training Centre, implement a policy of zero tolerance and provide legal aid, rehabilitation programmes and compensation to victims;

11(a): Ensure the effective implementation of the 1997 Constitution of Eritrea and expedite the planned Constitutional review process, within a clear timeframe and with transparent procedures …

13(b): Ensure that all cases of violence and discrimination against women covered by the Convention are brought under the jurisdiction of criminal instead of military courts, including when violations of the law are committed by military or public officials;

20(c): Alleged perpetrators of sexual violence against women in the national service are rarely prosecuted.

22. …it is concerned about reports that numerous women and girls, including unaccompanied children who are fleeing the country become victims of human trafficking and smuggling.

24. …it is concerned that women remain underrepresented in senior government positions and at reports that the measures taken only benefit women sharing the views of the political party in power.

25(b): Expeditiously hold free and fair elections to the National Assembly and other elected bodies, ensuring that all women, including those from disadvantaged groups and those holding divergent opinions, can vote and stand for election;

49: It also invites the State party to consider ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court [other international treaties].

Dr. Daniel Rezene’s Comments:

“I am presenting this oral statement on behalf of the Eritrean Law Society (ELS), an association of Eritrean legal professionals, working from exile. In addition to providing a context to the overall crisis of rule of law in Eritrea, our oral presentation focuses on three major issues: the issue of sexual violence in the army, the problem of human trafficking and the dire of state of women and unaccompanied refugee children in neighbouring countries.

“One of the most pervasive problems in Eritrea is the issue of sexual violence that is committed with impunity by military commanders. As is widely known, the government has a sweeping policy of compulsory military conscription, known as National Service Programme. Accordingly, every adult of member of the Eritrean society, including women, are subject to unpaid and indefinite military conscription by which reason many Eritreans are fleeing the country in unprecedented scale, making Eritrea one of the leading refugee-producing countries in the world.

“In the context of the government’s sweeping militarization agenda, many women conscripts have been victimised by sexual violence committed with impunity by army commanders. The problem is complicated by the total breakdown of the rule of law. In Eritrea, the whims and actions of military commanders are above the law. This means, access to justice with regard to sexual violence is unthinkable. The victims of this form injustice are estimated in thousands.

“The other issue is that of human trafficking. Due to a long history forced migration, Eritrea is also a major origin of victims of human trafficking. Eritrean victims make the majority of victims of the human trafficking crisis in the Sinai Desert of the last 4 to 5 years. Many of these Eritrean victims are women, who are wantonly raped and subjected to all sorts of abuses. In the first place, they have been forced to flee Eritrea as a result of severe political repression, pervasive practice of sexual violence and a dire state of socio-economic crisis. After feeling Eritrea, they fall in the hands of merciless human traffickers, and this means effectively jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Related to this issue is that of thousands of refugees, including unaccompanied underage boys and girls, in neighbouring countries of Ethiopia and Sudan. Their plight requires urgent attention.

“Madame Chairperson, what makes the case of Eritrea unique from many other countries is that it has no working constitution, no opposition political party, no functioning parliament, no form of free press, no form of civil society organizations (except GONGOs). To our knowledge, there is no other country in the world that is helplessly stifled bysuch kind of multiple structural problems all at once.The predicament of Eritrea is exceptionally unique. That is why the country has alarmingly high number of victims of human rights violations, estimated in tens of thousands. And this includes victims of sexual violence.

“As we speak now, the Eritrean government is under comprehensive scrutiny by a Commission of Inquiry established last year by UN Human Rights Council, here in Geneva. To our knowledge, Eritrea is the only African country (after Libya) to have been a subject of investigations of this nature. And this is happening sadly in the absence of any sort of armed conflict in the country. From this, it is not difficult to imagine the level of political repression and the dire state of women’s right in in the country.

“In conclusion, Madame Chairperson, we would like to highlight that the prevailing situation in Eritrea is a portent of much worse to come. This is how it looks like when a nation is at the brink of a state failure. Anyone with a right conscience cannot feign ignorance about the deep-seated political crisis in the country. We therefore kindly urge the CEDAW Committee to adopt recommendations that are commensurate with the reality at the ground level”.

Eritrea Liberty Magazine Issue No. 31

Saturday, 07 March 2015 05:54 Written by

Eritrea LIBERTY magazine issue No 31 1 

By EPDP Information Office

The external affairs committee of the Swiss Social Democratic Party has organized an important meeting in the Swiss capital of Bern on 2 March 2015 at which Eritreans made strong presentations on the political and human rights problems encountering Eritreans at home and in their heartbreaking displacement in diaspora.

Chaired by MP Carlo Sommaruga, who is the president of both his party’s foreign committee as well as being the president of  Swiss National Assembly’s Commission for External Affairs,  the meeting was attended by over 30 senior federal government officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, justice and police, representatives of parties and non-governmental organizations that were interested to question and discuss Switzerland’s policy towards Eritrea on human rights, refugees and related  external policy matters.

Swiss101 MP Carlo Sommaruga           Swiss Federal Palace/Parliament               Amb. Anne Lugon-Moulin

Keynote presentations were made by Mr. Woldeyesus Ammar, foreign relations head of the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), followed by Ambassador Anne Lugon-Moulin, director of the Sub-Saharan and Francophone Division in the Swiss Foreign Ministry, and Mr. Daniel Zollinger, senior official at the state secretariat for migration in the Ministry of Justice and Police which is headed by the current Swiss President, Ms Simonneta Sommaruga of the Social Democratic Party. Other speakers who were invited by the chair to give their inputs were Mr. Tesfagaber Ghebre and Mr. Tseghazeab G/Michael who represented at the meeting the newly formed umbrella to  coordinate  various Eritrean refugee and politico-civil society groupings in Switzerland.

The Eritrean speakers regretted that Switzerland, and the Swiss parliament in particular, did not so far strongly formally condemn the human rights abuses in Eritrea, including the use of forced labour, and hoped that such important actions will be taken in the future. They also highlighted the situation of Eritrean refugees in Switzerland and called for attention by federal and cantonal authorities as well as by the fraternal political and civil society organizations in the country. In particular, Mr. Tsegazeab G/Michael, chairman of the umbrella, and Mr. Tesfagaber Ghebre committee member (and also chairman of the Swiss branch of EPFP) emphasized the importance of protecting asylum seekers from agents of the Eritrean regime in Switzerland, like Toni Locher of Zurich, who are creating problems to refugees opposed to the dictatorship in Eritrea. 

Ambassador Lugon-Moulin briefed the meeting on measures taken by the federal foreign office in the Horn of Africa and areas of Swiss support tuned to refugees in the region. Mr. Zollinger of the Ministry of Justice and Police and his two colleagues closely working with Eritrean asylum seekers briefed the meeting on the real hardships Eritrean refugees face in their risky journeys to reach Europe. They said every care is taken to support them adjust to life in this country.

Mr. Carlo Sommaruga, a jurist-trade unionist who built huge renown in his anti-apartheid and related campaigns in the past, thanked all meeting participants and reassured that their inputs will be taken care at many levels of action in Switzerland.

After briefing the meeting on the internal political and human rights situation in Eritrea and the suffering of its refugees, the EPDP head of foreign office made the following summary regarding what Switzerland can do to help avert a much worse situation from occurring in highly militarized Eritrea that can further complicate matters in the region and outside it, as did the state failure and breakdown of society in Somalia.

What Switzerland Can Do to Help Eritrean Refugees in this Country

Most of the recent caseload of over 20,000 Eritrean refugees in Switzerland are young, almost all with poor educational background. They are also extremely traumatized by the difficult situation they experienced in Eritrea and the problems they faced on their hazardous journey to Europe. Therefore, to help them to eventually become useful citizens anywhere, they would primarily need immediate support/assistance like:

  • Special attention to their emotional/mental status;
  • Basic education, including technical skills; and assist them obtain jobs through a special agency catering this support;
  • Periodical seminars/conferences in their language on basics of human rights, anti-militarism/anti-violence etc
  • Grant them appropriate legal/political protection with the condition that those who misuse this right by collaborating with the Eritrean Consulate General in Switzerland will be sent back to Eritrea.

Action on the Government in Eritrea

The repressive regime in Asmara has not been receptive to outside pressure in the past. However, continued efforts can yield fruit. For example,

  • Strictly implement the targeted UN sanctions, especially regarding the 2% tax and the denial of entry visas to Eritrean government officials;
  • Switzerland can work with some known organizations like the ICRC to pressurize the regime to allow at least visitations to known prisoners such as the members of G15 (senior government officials) and journalists imprisoned since 2001;
  • Pose to the regime serious questions about the status of the national service and the use of forced labour in Eritrea. In addition, it would be greatly helpful if the Swiss Government (preferably by the Swiss Federal Assembly) could issue a statement condemning (a) Eritrea’s use of forced labour, (b), misuse of national service beyond humanly acceptable limits in the past two decades, and (c) the incarceration without any charge and a day at court of the 11 members of the Eritrean “National Assembly” since 18 September 2001.  

At the Horn of Africa Level

  • Put more pressure on both Eritrea and Ethiopia to normalize relations;
  • Ethiopia can help by accepting the final and binding arbitration decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission;
  • Initiate a solid support for Eritrean refugees in the Horn of Africa region. This will require a special package project for academic and vocational education in East Sudan and North Ethiopia partly using technical development resources that several countries suspended from Eritrea due to the human rights condition there.

Capacity Building for Democracy and Human Rights

  • Empowering the mainstream non-state actors (civil society and political movements in diaspora) through capacity building can help in bringing about a positive change in Eritrea (eg. Help radio broadcasts to Eritrea);
  • In particular, some Swiss political parties have a stake in working closely with the Eritrean community in this country to influence positive developments in Eritrea today and in constitutional governance in post-dictatorship Eritrea. 

Nairobi 22 February 2015

Eritreans in  Nairobi  have  established  the Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa ( EDEA)  to promote the interests and the  welfare of Eritrean citizens in  the East Africa Region and  help them to  benefit from the hospitality accorded to them in the region. The executive committee had planned an inaugural meeting to be held on Friday 20 February 2015.

Key topicsfor the meeting were:

Current  situation  of Eritrea and the Region  – to be presented by Ambassador Andebrhan Woldeghiorgis -  Former Eritrean Ambassador to the  EU;  former Commission for  Co-ordination with  UN Peace  Keeping Mission Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE)  – author of the book  Eritrea at a Crossroads

The role of the  Diaspora  in promotion of peace and  cooperation  to be  presented by Dr Wanyama Masinde – Senior  Lecturer  and Director Institute for  Regional Integration and Development – the Catholic University of East Africa

cartello giant prisonThe meeting was to be opened by Mr Elias Habte Selassie (an Eritrean academician, lawyer and an expert in conflict resolution and development) and   closed by Dr Asefaw Tekeste. (Public Health Director School of Medicine Touro University   )

Guest of honourwere:

Ambassador  Haile Menkerios  – UN Special  Representative  to the African Union;

Ambassador Dr. Monica Juma, MBS was appointed and sworn in as the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Defence on 27th June, 2013. Prior to her appointment as the Principal Secretary, Amb. Dr. Juma was Kenya’s Ambassador Extra-Ordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Djibouti and Permanent Representative to the African Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Amb. Dr. Juma holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, Master of Arts (MA) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) from the University of Nairobi and Certificate in Refugees Studies from Oxford University. She is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science, University of Pretoria (South Africa); an Associate with the African Programme of the United Nations-affiliated University for Peace, (Costa Rica); and an Adjunct Faculty member at the African Centre for Strategic Studies of the National Defence University, Washington D.C., (United States of America).[1]

At the last minutethe inaugural meeting of the EDEA did not take place. There was much confusion however what has emerged is that somehow the Eritrean embassy  lodged a complaint with the Kenyan authorities.

Haile Menkerios

In additionto lodging a protest with the Kenyan authorities, the Eritrean Embassy has also engaged in a campaign of intimidation of Eritreans in Nairobi by sending them mobile text messages. The message states that: the Eritrean Embassy has received complaints from concerned Eritreans about the meeting organised by the EDEA and in particular the nature of the discussion to be held there.  The message further states that no Eritrean should even dream of participating in the meeting. If Eritreans do participate no Eritrean embassy anywhere in the world will provide them with any services.

Andebrhan Woldeghiorgis

Typically the messageis a God Father like threat and very divisive. We should note that the key purpose of EDEA is to promote the welfare of the Eritrean citizens and the diaspora and in so doing to address the issue of so many of our young people   running from a ruthless uncaring government in Eritrea.

The reaction of the Eritreanembassy to the initiative, can only  demonstrate to the Kenyan authority  how  Eritrean Government  treats its people, it   should be taken as a sign that EDEA is on the right path,  it should  create  international  alliances carry out the work it has set out to do  seriously – the youth of  Eritrea is watching .


Makeda Saba
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Migrants arrive by boat at the Sicilian harbour of Pozzallo, February 15, 2015. REUTERS-Antonio Parrinello

1 OF 4.Migrants arrive by boat at the Sicilian harbour of Pozzallo, February 15, 2015.



(Reuters) - Italy's coast guard went to the rescue of at least 1,000 migrants in difficulty in the sea between Europe and North Africa on Sunday, the third operation of its kind in as many days.

The coast guard said it had plucked more than 130 people from two rubber boats about 180 km (110 miles) south of the island of Lampedusa so far, and was working to save eight more vessels.

"We are certainly at more than 1,000 migrants" involved in Sunday's rescue operation, a spokesman for the coast guard in Rome told Reuters.

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Better weather since last week has encouraged migrants to make the perilous journey from North Africa, where a breakdown of order inLibyahas made it almost impossible to police the traffickers who pack people onto rickety boats.

More than 300 people died last week trying to make the crossing, which claimed 3,500 lives last year even beforeItalyclosed its Mare Nostrum search and rescue mission in December.

The coast guard ship Fiorillo and several cutters were sent to the latest rescue, along with four merchant ships and two tug boats which were diverted to join the operation. One navy ship, two police patrol ships and a Maltese vessel had also been mobilized, the coast guard spokesman said.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing byMark Heinrich)


Issaias Afwerki WL

The swiss branch of HSBC bank hiding billions of dollars for corrupt clients has put a new spotlight on Eritrea. Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, Eritrea had the highest amount of money hidden for a single client in the bank, according to the HSBC leak.

Many Eritreans are pointing fingers at their corrupt ruling party officials since the poor economy of Eritrea has not produced millionaire businessmen. While Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is infamous for claiming his salary is only $130 dollars; over $695 million dollars is allegedly stashed in one of his foreign bank accounts, according to the HSBC leak.

According to Diaspora Eritreans with links to the military in Asmara, international reports of around a billion dollar total deposit by Eritrea regime has rattled the capital city. It is the largest illegal HSBC bank deposit in Africa. Some generals are reportedly dissenting the regime as mid-level officials wonder which top generals might also be involved in this scheme.

Many Eritrean activists blame President Afwerki for the shortage of food and electricity in the country. Long lines for bread are common sights even in Eritrean cities. The UN has also put sanctions on the Isaias government due to its financial support for terrorist groups in Africa.

Last week, leaders of Djibouti, Somaliland and Ethiopia condemned the destabilization role of Asmara in the region.



The United Nations announced on Wednesday that as many as 300 migrants are thought to have perished in the Mediterranean Sea this week after their boats overturned while attempting to cross from Libya to Italy. Vincent Cochetel, the regional director of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, called the incident a "tragedy on an enormous scale."

The migrants were “swallowed up by the waves,” another United Nations official said. Over the course of the past few months, several incidents involving migrants and refugees have captured (quickly fleeting) attention. Earlier this year, two cargo "ghost ships," carrying nearly 1,500 asylum-seekers and set to autopilot by fleeing smugglers, were rescued before they crashed into the Italian coast. That group constituted a tiny fraction of the 170,000 people intercepted by Italian rescuers in just over one year.

According to experts, Mideast conflict is part of what's spurring the largest mass migration since World War II.  

Late last year, the International Organization for Migration estimated that over 3,000 migrants had died while trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2014. "There needs to be a united response to the question of migration," said Pope Francis, following the rescue of 600 migrants traveling from North Africa to Sicily in November. "We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery."

This week's events involved four inflatable boats and severe weather. "The sea conditions were extreme," the AP reported, "with waves as high as eight metres (26 feet) and temperatures just a few degrees above zero. Twenty-nine died of hypothermia in the 18 hours it took the coast guard to ferry them to Italy."

The influx of migrants and refugees is coming from North Africa as well as the Middle East, where conflicts have spurred the largest mass migration since World War II—a time when, one expert told The Guardian, the migration was occurring in the opposite direction.

There are fears that the trend will only worsen. In October, Italy suspended Mare Nostrum, a search-and-rescue operation that was launched in 2013 following the deaths of several hundred migrants. Mare Nostrum was an aggressive undertaking that involved scanning the Libyan coastline looking for imperiled ships. Its replacement is Triton, a less-equipped European Union mission, which only monitors the waters close to Europe. However, by the time the boats get that far, it's often already too late.