Under the current 28-year old dictatorship of Isaias Afeworki, Eritrea is singled out to be the only sovereign state lacking many fundamental elements, like a constitution, that are vital to every country.  Only to cite another example, Eritrea does not yet have a population census – a simple count of its own people.

UN estimates usually show the current population of the country to be about six million. However, the regime in Asmara prefers to keep silence although at certain occasions gives much lower population estimates designed to serve its own wicked calculations.

On the other hand, the number of Eritreans forced to live outside home has been growing every year since the Eritrean refugee phenomenon started with a sizable number 28,600 refugees who fled to the Sudan in February-March 1967.

UN and other humanitarian agencies and concerned countries have been providing figures of Eritrean refugees, usually only of new refugee caseloads. Other than that, no serious attempt has been made until recently to assess the number of Eritreans who are outside home, mainly because of Eritrean’s unending political problems. Many of them have fled Eritrea because of repressions inflicted by the Ethiopian governments of Emperor Haile Selassie (1952-1975); Colonel Menghistu Hailemariam (1975-1991), and other Eritreans fled the country trying to escape the cruelties of one-man dictatorship of Isaias Afework since independence nearly three decades ago.

In an informative 26-page pamphlet published this summer by the Social Affairs Office of the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), it is estimated that the number of Eritreans in exile/diaspora   is at least 2,000,000. This number includes Eritrean asylum seekers, political refugees, and Eritreans naturalized by host countries.

Assessments show that most of the exiled Eritreans are hosted by about 40 countries of the world. It is also reasonable to assume that Eritreans are found almost in over 90% of the countries of the globe.

Undisclosed 1997 estimates of the Eritrean regime released by Awate.com showed that people of Eritrean origin who lived in the Sudan at that time (including refugees denied return back home by the Eritrean regime) totaled about half a million while those living in Ethiopia were given at about 450,000.

EPDP Estimates Eritreans in Diaspora at 2m 2

Today, it is believed that about 1.4 million Eritreans live exiled in the Greater Horn of Africa region alone. The estimates include old refugee caseloads in the Sudan (total of 850,000); Ethiopia (over half a million including existing/recent 270,000 refugees), and many in Djibouti and Kenya.

Other places where Eritreans are found in big concentrations include North America (about 200,000); Italy (125,000); Germany (80,000); Sweden (50,000 – updated figure);  UK (40,000); Switzerland (39,000); Israel (35,000); the Netherlands (25,000); Norway (20,000); Australia (6,000); Denmark and Finland (each 4,000); France and Belgium (each 3,000)… and many other places like Saud Arabia, Kuwait etc in the Middle East and like Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Libya and Egypt in the African continent.

These are sad figures of the sad Eritrean saga. One for sure needed to know where Eritreans are forcibly dispersed in big concentrations.

Thanks to the EPDP pamphlet now made public (initially in Tigrigna language), readers will know more than the figures quoted above. The paper, among other things, introduces readers to the meaning of the word refugee in UN parlance; the key reasons as to why Eritreans had been and  are still being forced to flee home during so many decades, and the abuses and injustices they have been subjected to both at home and in different places of exile. 

EPDP Estimates Eritreans in Diaspora at 2m 4The refugee camp of Hitsats (110,000) south of Shimelba camp in Northern Ethiopia.

Thursday, 23 April 2015 01:29

Mediterranean migrants: Details emerge of deadly capsize

Written by
  • http://static.bbci.co.uk/news/1.66.2287/img/news--icons-sprite.png); background-position: 0% -4013px; background-repeat: no-repeat;">21 April 2015
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  • From the sectionEurope
Mohammed Ali Malek, 21 AprilMohammed Ali Malek was arrested when the Italian coastguard vessel docked in Sicily

Migrant tragedy

Prosecutors in Italy say the captain, who survived and faces multiple homicide charges, crashed the boat by mistake against a merchant rescue ship.

The capsize is the deadliest recorded in the Mediterranean, the UN says.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says deaths in 2015 are 30 times higher than the same period last year and could rise to 30,000.

'Locked below'

The 28 survivors of the weekend capsize arrived in Catania, Sicily, late on Monday.

More than a dozen survivors of the weekend shipwreck are being guarded in a house inside the Mineo migrant centre.

They've become the most important witnesses in an official criminal investigation into the wreck of their boat. Italian officials instructed us not to approach or speak to them.

After midday the survivors came out of the house and were escorted the few steps to a waiting minibus. The survivors - all young men - boarded the bus in single file and in silence.

One of them sat next to the window. I caught his eye and signalled a thumbs up or thumbs down sign as a question. He replied with a thumbs up - and then broke out into a smile.

The survivors were then driven a short distance to the dining hall, where they were served a lunch of pasta, rice, chicken and vegetables. They ate in silence.

Special report: Europe's migrant crisis

Grey line

Capt Malek was accused of causing a shipwreck, multiple first degree homicides and being accomplice to clandestine immigration. Mr Bikhit was accused only of the third charge.

The charges on both men have yet to be formally laid by a judge. The pair will appear in court on Friday.

The Italian prosecutors said there appeared to be two causes of the capsize.

Mohammed Ali Malek, 27, (left) and Mahmud Bikhit, 25, 21 AprilMalek (left) and Bikhit will appear in court in Catania, Sicily, on Friday

They said the migrant boat captain had tried to come alongside the rescue vessel and "accidentally caused the small fishing boat to collide with the bigger merchant ship".

The second cause was the "overcrowding of the fishing boat, so the boat was tipped off balance by the wrong manoeuvre, causing the migrants on board to shift. It then capsized".

Chief prosecutor Giovanni Salvi said the huge death toll was as a result of so many migrants being locked below on the three-deck boat.

Grey lineMap showing the most deadly Mediterranean migrant routes

More on the Mediterranean's deadly migrant routes

The prosecutors said it appeared the merchant vessel, the Portuguese ship King Jacob, was not to blame.

The IOM's Flavio Di Giacomo said the survivors were "very tired, very shocked" when they arrived in Catania.

Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, said it had interviewed most of the 28.

He said about 350 on board were believed to be Eritreans, with refugees from other nations including Syria, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.The British aunt of one of those feared dead, Baboucarr Ceesay, a promising footballer from The Gambia, told the BBC the traffickers "must be held to account".

Jessica Sey from Gloucestershire said her 21-year-old nephew's family "will never get justice" and more must be done to educate migrants of the risks.

More than 1,700 migrants are believed to have died so far in 2015.

IOM spokesman Joel Millman told reporters in Geneva: "The 2015 death toll now is more than 30 times last year's total at this date... when just 56 deaths of migrants had been reported on the Mediterranean.

"IOM now fears the 2014 total of 3,279 migrant [deaths] on the Mediterranean may be surpassed this year in a matter of weeks, and could well top 30,000 by the end of the year, based on the current death toll. It could actually be even higher."

Separately in Greece, two Syrian men rescued from a vessel which ran aground off Rhodes on Monday, killing three of about 90 migrants on board, will face charges linked to illegal transportation.

UK pledge

The charges came after the EU set out a package of measures to try to ease the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

They include an increase in the financial resources of Frontex, the border agency runs the EU's Mediterranean rescue service Triton, and an extension of Triton's operational area.

The EU had been criticised over the scope of Triton, which replaced the larger Italian operation Mare Nostrum at the end of last year.

On Tuesday, UK PM David Cameron said it was right to extend the rescue efforts and that Britain would contribute.

There will also be a new campaign to destroy traffickers' boats.

An emergency EU leaders' summit on the migrant issue will be held on Thursday.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014 04:43

German Police Arrest 7 Eritrean Human Traffickers

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CONTRIBUTOR: SENAIT B/ DECEMBER 16, 2014

German Police Arrest Eritrean Smugglers

www.derwesten.de | December 16, 2014

Dortmund / Koblenz.  In Dortmund, Hamburg and Frankfurt, the police have arrested several suspected smugglers. They brought 700 Eritreans in Germany.

The police in Germany and Italy, together smashed an international smuggling network. Nine suspects were arrested in the Rhine-Main region and in the Dortmund and Hamburg, including a woman. A tenth suspect went to the police in Italy in the net. During the search of 25 apartments in Germany extensive evidence also ensured. This was announced by the public prosecutor Darmstadt, Frankfurt and Dortmund and the Federal Police inspection fight against crime Bexbach (Saarland) and the Frankfurt police on Tuesday in common.

The men, aged 19 to 38 years of allegedly organized against the payment of large sums of money sluicing Eritrean nationals from Italy to Germany and in other countries. Investigators from more than 700 trafficked people.

Police arrest seven suspects

Focus of the police action was the Tuesday morning. Around 400 personnel were present when the homes raided, and seven suspects were arrested. Two other suspicious men were arrested a week ago in Frankfurt because they wanted to settle in Canada and had come into possession of a firearm.

Migrants-Arrested2In parallel, the police in Italy were going against the smuggling gang. They took on the request of the public prosecutor Dortmund arrested a man who was wanted with a European arrest warrant. His extradition to Germany is requested. The arrests are due to common one-year investigation. (Dpa)

Software Translation from German

CONTRIBUTOR:   / DECEMBER 16, 2014

 

Eritrean Migrant Gives Birth on Italian Navy ship

www.thelocal.it | December 16, 2014

A baby boy was born on board an Italian Navy ship on Tuesday to an Eritrean mother, one of 430 boat migrants saved this morning off the coast of Sicily.

Aloniab Nahom was born at around 2.00am this morning on board the Etna vessel, shortly after his mother was picked up in the Strait of Sicily.

Eritrean migrant gives birth on Italian Navy ship

Born to a Catholic Eritrean woman, the baby boy has already been baptized by the on-board chaplain.

“Mother and baby are doing well and will today go ashore at Lampedusa, on board a helicopter,” the Italian Navy said in a statement.

The “happy event” was the conclusion of an operation to save 430 boat migrants off the coast of Italy, the rescuers said.

The Italian Navy continues to save boat migrants from the grips of ruthless traffickers despite ending its dedicated “Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) operation in October. Around 160,000 migrants were saved in the 13-month mission, which has since been replaced by a significantly smaller EU operation.

More than 348,000 migrants and refugees have taken the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean so far this year. Of those, more than 34,500 have been Eritreans and over 60,000 Syrians, the UN refugee agency said last week.

Today’s birth is not the first to happen on board an Italian Navy ship. A baby girl was born in September to a Gambian woman, saved along with 600 others off Italy’s southern shore.

- See more at: http://eastafro.com/Post/2014/12/16/eritrean-migrant-gives-birth-to-a-baby-boy-on-italian-navy-ship/#sthash.6tSa5nUh.dpuf

ቤት ጽሕፈት ዜና ሰዲህኤ

9 ታሕሳስ 2014

ኣብ ወርሒ ሕዳር 2014 .2128ኤርትራውያን ናብ ኣብ ምብራቕ ሱዳን ዝርከብ መደበር ስደተኛታት ሸገራብ ኣትዮም። ዝርዝር ናይዞም ናብ ሸገራብ ዝኣተዉ2128ስደተኛታት ድማ፡ ከም ዝስዕብ ኢዩ።

  ትሕቲ 5 ዓመት ካብ 5-18 ዓመት ልዕሊ 18 ዓመት ድምር
ደቂኣንስትዮ 18 113 247 378
ደቂተባዕትዮ 1 210 1539 1750
ድምር 19 323 1786 2128

 

ቤት ጽሕፈት ዜና ሰዲህኤ

3 ታሕሳስ 2014

ኣብ ወርሒ ሓምለ 2014 .311ኤርትራውያን ናብ ኣብ ምብራቕ ሱዳን ዝርከብ መደበር ስደተኛታት ሸገራብ ኣትዮም። ዝርዝር ናይዞም ናብ ሸገራብ ዝኣተዉ311ስደተኛታት ድማ፡ ከም ዝስዕብ ኢዩ።

 

ትሕቲ 5 ዓመት

ካብ 5-18 ዓመት

ልዕሊ 18 ዓመት

ድምር

ደቂኣንስትዮ

8

41

39

88

ደቂተባዕትዮ

5

69

149

223

ድምር

13

110

188

311

ቤት ጽሕፈት ዜና ሰዲህኤ

2 ታሕሳስ 2014

ኣብ ወርሒ ሰነ 2014 .199ኤርትራውያን ናብ ኣብ ምብራቕ ሱዳን ዝርከብ መደበር ስደተኛታት ሸገራብ ኣትዮም። ዝርዝር ናይዞም ናብ ሸገራብ ዝኣተዉ199ስደተኛታት ድማ፡ ከም ዝስዕብ ኢዩ።

  

 

ትሕቲ 5 ዓመት

ካብ 5-18 ዓመት

ልዕሊ 18 ዓመት

ድምር

ደቂ ኣንስትዮ

3

9

28

40

ደቂ ተባዕትዮ

7

22

130

159

ድምር

10

31

158

199

Report From the Danish Immigration Service's fact finding missions to ethiopia and Eritrea

ኤርትራዊ ሓታቲ ዑቕባ፡ ኣብ'ታ 30 ኤርትራውያን ዝነብሩላ ኣይንዚደልን ኣበይ፡ ስዊዘላንድ፡ ጽርበት እናሰርሐ ከሎ ዘርኢ ስእሊ (ስኣላይ ፋብሪስ ኮፍሪኒ/ ኣጃንስ ፍራን ፕረስ/

ብማርክ ኣንደርሶን

21 ሕዳር 2014

ብሰንኪ ደረት ኣልቦ ሃገራዊ ኣገልግሎት፡ እናዛየደ ዝመጸ ዋጋታት መግብን ስእነተ-ስራሕን ኤርትራውያን መንእሰያት ንስደት ክውሕዙ ይግደዱ ኣለዉ ይብል ላዕለዋይ ኮሚሽን ስደተኛታት ሕቡራት ሃገራት (UNHCR)

ብሰንኪ ደረት ኣልቦ መደብ ሃገራዊ ኣገልግሎት፡ እናዛየደ ዝመጸ ዋጋታት መግብን ስእነት ስራሕን ቍጽሪ ናይ'ቶም ኣብ ኣውሮጳ ዑቕባ ዝሓቱ ኤርትራውያን ብሰለስተ ዕጽፊ ኢዩ ወሲኹ። 

ብመሰረት ካብ ላዕለዋይ ኮሚሽን ስደተኛታት ሕቡራት ሃገራት፡ ኣብ'ዚ ዓመት'ዚ ኣብ ገማግም ሃገራት ኣውሮጳ ካብ ዝበጽሑ፡ ብጀላቡ ኣቢሎም ናብ ጣልያን ዝኣተዉ ሓተቲ ዑቕባ ኤርትራውያን 22% ኰይኖም፡ ድሕሪ ሱርያውያን ኣብ ካልኣይ ደረጃ ኢዮም ዝስርዑ። 

ኣብ'ዞም ዝሓለፉ 10 ኣዋርሕ ዳርጋ 37,000 ዝዀኑ ኤርትራውያን ኣብ 38 ሃገራት ኣውሮጳ ዑቕባ ሓቲቶም ኣለዉ። እዚ ምስ'ቲ ኣብ ዝሓለፈ ዓመት፡ ኣብ ውሽጢ 10 ኣዋርሕ ዝተራእየ ናይ 13,000 ሓተቲ ዑቕባ ክነጻጸር እንከሎ ብሰለስተ ዕጽፊ ኢዩ ወሲኹ። ብመሰረት ጸብጻብ ላዕለዋይ ኮሚሽን ሕቡራት ሃገራት፡ መብዛሕትኦም ኤርትራውያን ስደተኛታት ኣብ ሽወደን፡ ጀርመን፡ ስዊዘርላንድን ሆላንድን ኢዮም ዑቝባ ሓቲቶም። ካብ 80% ክሳብ 90% ዝዀኑ ኤርትራውያን ስደተኛታት ድማ ተቐባልነት ረኺቦም ክብል ናይ ላዕለዋይ ኮሚሽን ስደተኛታት ቃል ውሃቢ ገሊጹ።

ኣብ ሽወደን ዝመደበራ፡ መሮን እስጢፋኖስ እተባህለት ተጣባቒት ሰብኣዊ መሰላት፡ ናህሪ ዋጋታት መግብን ስእነት ናይ መሰረታዊ ኣገልግሎታትን ኢዩ ጠንቂ ናይ ስደት ኰይኑ ዘሎ ኢላ። "መነባብሮ ዘይጽወር ኰይኑ፡ ህዝቢ ይጠሚ ኣሎ፡ ንጹህ ማይ ምርካብ ኣጸጋሚ ኰይኑ ኣል፡ መብራህቲ የለን፡ ስለ'ዚ መነባብሮ ካብ ዕለት ናብ ዕለት እናጸንከረ ኢዩ ዝኸይድ ዘሎ ኢላ።

"ቀደም ኤርትራውያን ናበይ ይኸዱ ይፈልጡ ነይሮም። ኣብ ሱዳን ወይ ኣብ ሊብያ ኰይኖም፡ ናይ መወዳእታ ክበጽሕው ዝደልዩ ሃገር ይፈልጡ ነይሮም። ሕጂ ግን ኣበይ ይኣትዉ ኣይግድሶምን ኢዩ። ኣብ ነፍስወከፍ ሃገር ኣውሮጳ ብዝሒ ናይ ኤርትራውያን ሓተቲ ዑቕባ እናዛየደ ኢዩ መጺኡ።"

ዕድመ ናይ'ቶም 90% ካብ'ቶም ኣብ ወርሒ ጥቅምቲ ናብ ኢትዮጵያ ዝኣተዉ ኤርትራውያን ስደተኛታት ኣብ መንጐ 18 ክሳብ 24 ዓመት ኢዩ። መብዛሕትኦም ስደተኛታት ካብ'ቲ ሓድሽ ናይ ምዕስካር መደባት ንምምላጥን ኣብ ግዳም ናይ ትምህርትን ስራሕን ዕድል ክረኽቡን ኢሎም ከምዝሃደሙ ኢዮም ዝገልጹ።

ብመሰረት ጸብጻብ ላዕለዋይ ኮሚሽን ስደተኛታት ሕቡራት ሃገራት ኣብ መጀመርያ ሰሙን ናይ ወርሒ ሕዳር ጥራሕ 1,200 ኤርትራውያን ስደተኛታት ናብ ኢትዮጵያ ኣትዮም'። 

"ጽንኩር ቍጠባዊ ሃለዋት፡ ሓደ ካብ'ቶም ንኤርትራውያን ንኽስደዱ ዘገድዶም ዘሎ ምኽንያት ኢዩ። ኣብ ርእስ'ዚ፡ ንሃገራዊ ኣገልግሎት ዝግበር ምስግዳድን ግፋን ውን ተወሳኺ ጠንቅታት ኢዩ። እቶም ዘዛረብናዮም፡ ዋላ እቶም ቅድሚ ሕጂ ንኣገልግሎት ኣይበቕዑን ኢዮም ተባሂሎም ተናሒፎም ዝነበሩ ዜጋታት ተገዲዶም ናብ ኣገልግሎት ይኣትዉ ኣለዉ ይብል እቲ ናይ ላዕለዋይ ኮሚሽን ቃል ውሃቢ። 

ሚኒስትሪ ወጻኢ ጕዳያት፡ ብ20 ሕዳር ኣብ ዝሃቦ ጋዜጣዊ መግለጺ፡ "እቲ ናይ 18 ኣዋርሕ ናይ ሃገራዊ ኣገልግሎት መደብ ክናዋሕ ዝተገደደሉ ምኽንያት፡ ኢትዮጵያ ንኣህጕራዊ ውዕል ብምጥሓስ፡ ናይ ኤርትራ ልዑላዊ መሬት ኣብ ትሕቲ ቍጽጽራ ምእታዋ ምዃኑ ክዝንጋዕ የብሉን" ኢሉ።

"ላዕለዋይ ኮሚሽን ስደተኛታት፡ ኣብ ዝሓለፈ 10 ዓመታት፡ ንዅሎም ኤርትራውያን ከም ናይ ፖለቲካ ዑቝባ ሓተቲ ብምቝጻርን ብምቕባልን ንስደት ከተተባብዕ ከምዘይጸንሐ፤ ሕጂ ቍጽሪ ናይ ኤርትራውያን ስደተኛታት በዚሑ ዝብል ናይ ሓርገጽ ንብዓት ክኹዑ ኣየመልክዓሉን ኢዩ" ይብል መግለጺ ሚኒስተር ወጻኢ ጕዳያት ኤርትራ።

ፕረሲደንት ኢሳያስ ኣፍወርቂ፡ ኣብ ለካቲት ኣብ ዝገበሮ ናይ ተለቪዥን መደረ  "ኤርትራ ብሰንኪ ህድማ ናይ'ዞም መንእሰያት ኣይትበርስን ኢያ። እዞም መንእሰያት ንስደት ስለዝውሓዙ ዝጐድለና ነገር ኣይክህሉን ኢዩ። ምኽንያቱ ድማ፡ ሃሞምን ቀልቦምን ንግዳም ምኻድ ስለዝዀኑ ንሃገሮም ዘበርክትዎ ዝዀነ ይኹን ፋይዳ የብሎምን" ኢሉ።

ካብ ኤርትራ ናብ ሱዳን ዝተሰዱ ኤርትራውያን በስገዳድ ናብ ሃገሮም ይምለሱ ኣለዉ ዝብል ሓበሬታታት ንላዕለዋይ ኮሚሽን የሻቕሎ ኢዩ። "እዞም ስደተኛታት እዚኣቶም ናብ ኤርትራ ክባረሩ ኣይግባእን ኢዩ" ይብል ግሩኢል።

እቲ ብሰንኪ እናዛየደ ዝመጸ ዋሕዚ ንስደት፡ ላዕለዋይ ኮሚሽን ስደተኛታት ዘቖሞ መርማሪ ሽማግለ ኣብ 20 ሕዳር ስርሑ ከምዝጀመረ ሕቡራት ሃገራት ምእዋጁ ዝፍለጥ ኢዩ።

"ንብዙሓት ስደተኛታት ኤርትራውያን ከዛርብ ዕድል ረኺበ ኢየ። ስለ'ዚ፡ ቍጽሪ ናይ ስደተኛታት እናወሰኸ ምኻዱ ኣይገርመንን ኢዩ። ምኽንያቱ ድማ፡ ስበስልጣን ኤርትራ ነቲ መሰረታዊ ጠንቂ ናይ ስደት ክቕይርዎ ኣይደልዩን ኢዮም። ግዝኣተ-ሕጊ ከምዘየለ፡ ግህሰታት ሰብኣዊ መሰላት ምንጋሱ፡ ብዓሰርተታት ዝቝጸሩ ብዘይፍርዲ ዝተቐንጸሉ ምህላውም፡ ዝተሰወሩ፡ ብዘይ ክስን ፍርድን ምእሳርን ምስቓይን ከምዘሎ ክሳብ ሕጂ ኣብ ዝገበርክዎ ስራሕ በሪሁለይ ኢዩ። እዚ ከኣ'ዩ ንኤርትራውያን ክስደዱ ዝግድዶም ዘሎ። ደረት ዘይብሉ፡ በስገዳድ ዕዮ ዝልለ ሃገራዊ ኣገልግሎት፡ ሓደ ካብ'ቶም ጠንቅታት ናይ ስደት ኢዩ። "እዚ ኣነ ኣባሉ ዝኸንኩ ናይ ምርመራ ኮሚሽን፡ ነዚ ኵሉ ዝቐርብ ዘሎ ግህሰታት ብዕምቈት ከጽንዖ ኢዩ። ንሃለዋት ሰብኣዊ መሰላት ዝገልጽ ወድዓዊ ጸብጻብ ከቕርብ ምዃኑ ድማ እተኣማመን ኢየ" ኢላ፡ ናይ ሕቡራት ሃገራት ተኸታታሊት ኵነታት ሰብኣዊ መሰላት ኣብ ኤርትራ፡ ወይዘሮ ሸይላ ኪታሩስ።

መሮን እስጢፋኖስ ከኣ፡ ድሕሪ'ዚ ንዓሰርተታት ዓመታት ዝቐጸለ ጭቆና ለውጢ ክመጽእ ትስፍውቲ ኢየ ኢላ። "ኣብ መላእ ዓለም ዝካየድ ዘሎ ንርእዮ ኣሎና። ኣብ ቡርኪኖ ፋሶ ዝርኣናዮ ተረኽቦ፡ ተስፋ ዝህብ ኢዩ። ኣብ ኤርትራ ዘሎ ስርዓት ከኣ ከብቅዕ ኣለዎ" ኢላ።

 

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/nov/21/eritreans-seeking-asylum-europe-increases-threefold-in-a-year-unhcr

 

 

 

 

Young people fleeing Eritrea as ‘open-ended’ national service, soaring food prices and poor job prospects bite, says UNHCR

 
An Eritrean asylum seeker working at a sawmill in Einsiedeln Abbey, Switzerland, where 30 Eritreans have been given refuge.
An Eritrean asylum seeker working at a sawmill in Einsiedeln Abbey, Switzerland, where 30 Eritreans have been given refuge. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The number of Eritreans seeking asylum in Europe has nearly tripled over the past year as mainly young refugees stream out of one of the world’s most secretive countries, fleeing an “open-ended” national service programme, soaring food prices and dire job prospects.

After Syrians, Eritreans are the most common nationality to arrive on European shores so far this year, comprising 22% of all people entering Italy by boat, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Nearly 37,000 Eritreans applied for asylum in 38 European countries over the first 10 months of this year, compared to about 13,000 in the same period last year, UNHCR reported. Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands have fielded the most asylum applications from Eritrean refugees. “The recognition rate of [Eritreans] asking for asylum in Europe and industrial countries is actually quite high – it’s between 80 and 90%,” said a UNHCR spokesperson.

Rising food prices and a lack of basic services have made Eritreans desperate to leave, said Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean activist based in Sweden. “Life is getting too expensive, people are starving. It’s really hard to find clean water, there is almost no electricity in the city, it’s just getting harder and harder.

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“Before, people knew where they wanted to go – they would plan in Sudan or in Libya where their final destination would be – but they don’t care any more. In almost every European country there is an increase in Eritrean [asylum seekers].”

About 90% of the Eritrean refugees who arrived in Ethiopia during the month of October are aged between 18 and 24, according to UNHCR. People fleeing the country say that renewed efforts by Eritrea’s government to enlist young people in the army has forced many to leave in pursuit of education and work abroad, according to Gruijl. “[The refugees] are seeing a stronger drive to recruit people into the national services – some of these services include military service. Even though officially it’s four and a half years, quite often it’s open-ended for the people.”

UNHCR reported more than 1,200 Eritrean refugees had fled into Ethiopia in the first week of November alone.

The UNHCR spokesperson said: “The harsh economic situation is clearly another reason [people flee Eritrea], as well as the round-ups and the reintensification of people being forced into these national services. According to the people we spoke to, there is now even an extra effort to get people who were previously deemed unfit for military service: school dropouts, children who have gotten their education degree at the end of grade 11 – they are now being targeted for these national services.”

In a press statement issued on 20 November, Eritrea’s ministry of foreign affairs said: “What is conveniently glossed over here is the fact that the mandatory, 18-months … national military service is prolonged solely because of Ethiopia’s occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories and its continued belligerence in breach of international law.

“The UNHCR itself has become, for over 10 years now, an unwitting catalyst in bolstering the pull factors by invariably categorising all Eritrean migrants as ‘prima facie asylum seekers’. In the event, it is odd for the UNHCR to issue intermittent statements or shed crocodile tears ‘on the increasing number of Eritrean asylum seekers’.”

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Eritrea’s long-serving president Isaias Afewerki has dismissed claims that his country will implode as its young people flee in droves. “I don’t think there are things we are missing because [refugees] are leaving. Those with impressionable hearts cannot contribute anything in the country because their hearts are somewhere else,” he said in a February address on state television.

Reports that Eritreans have been forcibly returned after fleeing to neighbouring Sudan have been met with concern from UNHCR, who “recommend that people are not returned to Eritrea,” Gruijl said.

On 20 November, the UN announced that the commission of inquiry into human rights abuses in Eritrea – established in response to rising migration out of the country – had begun its operations.

Sheila Keetharuth, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea and a member of the commission, said: “I have had the opportunity to speak to many Eritreans who have fled their country. I am not surprised that the number of Eritreans choosing this path keeps increasing – simply because I have not seen authorities committing to changing the root causes of this exodus. My work has highlighted the lack of rule of law, breaches of fundamental rights, with scores of reported cases of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture in detention – all of which give reasons to Eritreans to flee. The protracted national service, under conditions that often turn it into forced labour and create a fertile ground for other violations, is another compelling one.

“The commission of inquiry that is starting its work today, and of which I am a member, will have the resources and expertise to look into all these reported violations in greater depth and detail. I am convinced that this will allow it to come up with an objective, compelling report on the situation of human rights in Eritrea today.”

Meron said Eritreans are hopeful that change might come after decades of oppression at the hands of their government: “We see what’s happening throughout the world, we’ve seen Burkina Faso – that gives us hope. For now, this regime has to go.”

This article was changed on 24 November to clarify that 90% of the Eritrean refugees who arrived in Ethiopia, not in Europe, were aged between 18 and 24.

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