Eritrean regime “abuses Norway’s hospitality”

Wednesday, 11 September 2019 21:11 Written by

September 3, 2019 News

Source: NRK

[Note: This is google translated from Norwegian]

Yemane Gebreab Norway

Norwegian Eritreans celebrated the Eritrean regime at a party in Oslo. Eritrea’s second most powerful man participated in the celebration of the military service that was introduced 25 years ago, which is the main reason many Norwegian Eritreans have been granted asylum in Norway.

On August 3 this year, Norwegian Eritreans celebrated the 25th anniversary of the introduction of National Service and the establishment of the Sawa training camp. National Service is a mandatory for all citizens, who must serve in military or civilian positions. It should last for 18 months, but for many it lasts for years.

This duty of service is the main reason why many Eritreans have fled the country. Experts estimate that up to 25 percent of the population has fled the country since 2001, Eritrea expert, Kjetil Tronvoll, told NRK.

More than 22,000 Eritreans have immigrated to Norway since 1990. Most of them came to Norway after the country’s dictator Isaias Afewerki took power in 2001 after a hard-fought liberation struggle.

The party was held at the Event Hall at Bryn in Oslo. Photos and videos from the party were shared on social media. Many of the participants wore military-style camouflage t-shirts.

From the stage there is a lineup on a long line, and several people stand with the Eritrean flag by their side.

From the stage it is said that “we will show you what we learned in Sawa, and military training must be done every day, it is easy to forget”.

Eritrea’s powerful adviser

From the photos and videos, it seems that one person is getting the most attention.


His name is Yemane Gebreab, and is the Eritrean president’s closest adviser. It is he who gets the attention, and he is the participant in the pictures and the video wants to take a selfie with.

“In practice, he is number two in the regime,” says Kjetil Tronvoll, one of Europe’s foremost Eritrean experts.

But who are the Norwegian Eritreans in the picture, and why are they there?

NRK sources in the Eritrean environment in Norway who oppose the regime say that several of these people have come to Norway in the last 10-15 years and have been granted asylum here in the country.

So does Tronvoll, who has good sources in the Norwegian-Eritrean community, know who they are?

– There is probably a slightly divided audience. Some are 2nd generation Eritreans, born in Norway by parents who came in the 80’s. But there are also people here who have fled themselves, and who are attending this party.

How do you know that?

– The Eritreans in this country recognize people in the pictures, they know when they came to Norway. And we know from several other European countries where there are similar parties, where there are newly arrived Eritreans who attend to celebrate the regime they have fled from.

That sounds weird?

– Yes, it’s paradoxical. Some are at this party because they want a community. Some join because they feel a social pressure to line up. And some people are complimenting the regime, because they are regime supporters, even though they have been granted asylum on the grounds of fleeing the regime, says Tronvoll.
Kjetil Tronvoll

NRK sources in the Eritrean environment in Norway who are against the regime say that several of these images have come to Norway in the last 10-15 years and have been granted asylum here in the country. So does Kjetil Tronvoll, who has good sources in the Norwegian-Eritrean environment, know who they are? 

Got asylum and paid tribute to the regime

NRK has investigated the identity of a group standing in a picture next to Yemane Gebreab.

According to NRK’s ​​Norwegian-Eritrean sources, most people in the picture have come to Norway after 2001. Some may also have come to family reunification to Norway. 5400 people from Eritrea have been living on this basis since 1990, according to Statistics Norway.

NRK has got hold of two of those in the picture. They both came to Norway in 2009, according to the National Register. They confirm that they have been granted asylum in Norway.

Both say they were at the party, but NRK got no answer as to why they were there.

Undermining the asylum system

Woldab Feshatzion has been fighting for a free Eritrea since the 1980s, and is the leader of the Eritrean Community Association in Norway.

Woldab Feshatzion

He is very angry about the Norwegian Eritreans at the party.

– “Those in the pictures are supporters of the Eritrea regime. At the same time, many of them say they have fled from this regime. To me it shows that they are not real asylum seekers, they have been allowed to stay on a false basis,”says Feshatzion.

He believes this undermines the asylum system.

– “These people occupy the places that could have been taken by real asylum seekers. It is very sad, and it is also disappointing to see that the Norwegian authorities are not able to reveal that they are not real asylum seekers, but give them protection in Norway,”he says.

Feshatzion believes the regime is trying to show Eritreans in Norway that they are strong, and that it is useless to protest against the regime.

– “For me, this sends a signal that they can intimidate me here in Norway, just as they do to oppositionists in Eritrea. It’s almost as if the regime is here in my living room, he says.

– Not the celebration of Sawa

The event was organized by the immigrant organization The Eritrean Association in Oslo and the surrounding area. Chairman Samson Gebreamlak confirms that they are behind the event and that Yemane Gebraeb was present, but rejects accusations that it was to celebrate Sawa’s 25th anniversary.

But the announcement of the event on social media reveals that it was indeed designed to celebrate Sawa.

Landlord: – Wanted to cancel

The premises were rented out by the company Utleielokaler AS, and booking manager Andreas Gresvik told NRK that they do not support the Eritrean regime.

– “Had we had this information well in advance, we would have canceled the event. We received a warning in advance that this was an event in support of the regime, but the notice we received came so close to the event and we did not have enough evidence to cancel. We have to take into account the freedom of expression of the customers, but the Event Hall is not a haven for extreme attitudes,” says Gresvik.

He emphasizes that they should not consider the tenants’ political positions, but believes they are behind the lights.

– “In this case, the customer has withheld information about the agenda behind the event. We were told that it was an annual meeting with a party afterwards. In that sense, it is a breach of contract that we would have canceled if we had known this beforehand. We have previously denied other events where we have realized that there were hidden motives,” says Gresvik.

NRK has tried to get hold of the Eritrean interest office in Norway, which is located in Oslo, without success.

Extensive violation of human rights

Eritrea is described as one of the most repressed countries in the world. President Isaias Afwerki has ruled the country since its release in 1991, and no political opposition is allowed. The 1997 Constitution has not been implemented and the designated parliament has not been assembled in 18 years.

There is no free press, no independent civil society, and religious minorities are banned and imprisoned for their faith.

No one knows how many political prisoners there are in the country, but the estimates range from 10 to 25 thousand. People are being jailed without a sentence, widespread use of torture and sexual abuse in prison has been reported, as well as executions without law and sentence.

According to the legislation, the national service in Eritrea consists of both civil and military tasks. The aim of the service beyond national defense is to contribute to the reconstruction of the country and the development of a common Eritrean identity across ethnic and religious divisions. The service, which in principle will last for 18 months, has in practice proved to be possible for several years. This is because, according to the authorities, the border conflict with neighboring Ethiopia. Women from their mid-20s are likely to be discharged or dismissed from the service as a result of marriage, birth or religious reason. Warsay Yikealo is an extension of the national service, and it has helped many to serve for a number of years. Eritreans who evade national service are likely to risk out-of-court penalties from local military superiors, but the experience they have is limited, so it is difficult to draw firm conclusions. But many of the examples point to the fact that the punishment complies with the provisions of the law, that is, between three months and three years’ detention.

Source: Kjetil Tronvoll / Country info

September 3, 2019 News

Eritrea seizes schools run by religious groups

Teklemariam Bekit

BBC Tigrinya

St Joseph's School in Keren, Eritrea
Image caption: St Joseph’s School in Keren, run by the Catholic La Salle brothers, is one of the schools affected

The authorities in Eritrea have seized control of seven secondary schools run by religious organisations.

An order to hand over the running of the schools was given to the Catholic Church and other Christian and Muslim groups on Tuesday morning.

Sources have told the BBC that security agents are already in the school compounds demanding the handover.

Most of the students at the schools are from economically disadvantaged families, a source said.

The government says that the closures are in line with regulations they introduced in 1995, which limit the activities of religious institutions.

In June, the government seized all health centres run by the Catholic Church, leaving thousands of patients without care.

Those closures appeared to be a response to the church’s criticism of President Isaias Afwerki’s rule.

Eritrean Catholic bishops had said that they wanted political reforms in the country, which has a constitution and has never held a national election.

Many of the schools targeted are respected institutions founded during more than 70 years ago during the time of Italian colonisation.


Berhanu Jula ISIS EthiopiaDeputy Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Defense Force, Gen. Berhanu Jula. Source : AMMA

September 11, 2019

Ethiopian Defense Force says that it has captured some ISIS members in the country. Deputy Chief of staff of the Ethiopian Defense Force, General Berhanu Jula, said that the defense force is following those who are not yet captured, reported Ethiopia’s state media – EBC.

General Berhanu Jula refrained from disclosing the circumstances under which the alleged ISIS members were captured and in which part of Ethiopia they were captured. He did not disclose numbers, too.

“The Defense Force is working hard with a great sense of responsibility to protect the country and the people from danger,” Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation cited Gen. Berhanu Jula as saying. 

It was during an interview with state News Paper, Addis Zemen, that General Berhanu disclosed ISIS is operating in the country. The terrorist group’s attempt to operate in different parts of Ethiopia has been foiled, claimed Gen. Berhanu.

He also said that the Ethiopian government is aware that there are individuals who are recruited, trained and armed by ISIS in Ethiopia.

“What ISIS members are doing, where they are operating in the country, who are their contacts in cities and towns, what their plan and other information that is not necessary to disclose at this point are known, and the government following it,” he is cited as saying.

Political pundits in the country are expressing concern that radical ethnic nationalism and unprecedented moral corruption is making the country vulnerable security-wise.

This ending Ethiopian Year, 2011, was busy for the Defense force due to ethnic-based violence in many parts of Ethiopia – violence that overpowered regional and federal police force.

The latest “intervention” region for the defense force is Southern Ethiopia regional state which was rocked with violence as radical ethnic Sidama nationalists declare a regional state on their own. 


10 Most Censored Countries

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 11:46 Written by

Repressive governments use sophisticated digital censorship and surveillance alongside more traditional methods to silence independent media. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Eritrea is the world's most censored country, according to a list compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The list is based on CPJ's research into the use of tactics ranging from imprisonment and repressive laws to surveillance of journalists and restrictions on internet and social media access.

Under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to seek and receive news and express opinions. These 10 countries flout the international standard by banning or severely restricting independent media and intimidating journalists into silence with imprisonment, digital and physical surveillance, and other forms of harassment. Self-censorship is pervasive.

In the top three countries--Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan--the media serves as a mouthpiece of the state, and any independent journalism is conducted from exile. The few foreign journalists permitted to enter are closely monitored.

Other countries on the list use a combination of blunt tactics like harassment and arbitrary detention as well as sophisticated surveillance and targeted hacking to silence the independent press. Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, and Iran are especially adept at practicing these two brands of censorship: jailing and harassing journalists and their families, while also engaging in digital monitoring and censorship of the internet and social media.

The list addresses only those countries where the government tightly controls the media. The conditions for journalists and press freedom in states such as Syria, Yemen, and Somalia are also extremely difficult, but not necessarily attributable solely to government censorship. Rather, factors like violent conflict, insufficient infrastructure, and the role of non-state actors create conditions that are dangerous for the press.

1. Eritrea

Leadership: President Isaias Afewerki, in power since 1993.

How censorship works: The government shut down all independent media in 2001. Eritrea is the worst jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa, with at least 16 journalists behind bars as of December 1, 2018; most have been imprisoned since the 2001 crackdown, and none received a trial. According to freedom of expression group Article 19, the 1996 press law includes a requirement that the media must promote "national objectives." The state retains a legal monopoly of broadcast media, and journalists for the state media toe the government's editorial line for fear of retaliation. Alternative sources of information such as the internet or satellite broadcasts of radio stations in exile are restricted through occasional signal jams and by the poor quality of the government-controlled internet, according to DW Akademie. Internet penetration is extremely low, at just over 1% of the population, according to the U.N. International Telecommunication Union. Users are forced to visit internet cafes, where they are easily monitored. A March 2019 report by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa suggests that the authoritarian state is so "brutal or commanding" as to "render ordering overt internet disruptions unnecessary." However, on May 15, 2019, the BBC reported a social media shutdown in Eritrea, ahead of the country's Independence Day celebrations. With the opening of the border with Ethiopia in mid-2018, some foreign journalists received special accreditation to visit Eritrea, according to The Economist, but access was tightly controlled.

Lowlight: As many as seven journalists may have perished in custody, according to reports that CPJ has not been able to confirm due to the climate of fear and tight state control. The government has refused all requests to provide concrete information on the fate of imprisoned journalists. In June 2019, more than 100 leading African journalists, scholars, and rights activists wrote an open letter to Afewerki, asking to visit long-imprisoned journalists and activists; this request was soundly rejected, and deemed "inappropriate" by Eritrea's Ministry of Information.


Nuba and Bani Amer sign accord in Port Sudan

Monday, 09 September 2019 11:01 Written by

September 9 - 2019 PORT SUDAN

Member of the Sovereign Council, and commander of the RSF militia, Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ congratulates Nuba and Bani Amer at Sunday’s signing ceremony in Port Sudan (Social media)
Member of the Sovereign Council, and commander of the RSF militia, Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ congratulates Nuba and Bani Amer at Sunday’s signing ceremony in Port Sudan (Social media)

On Sunday, El Salaam Hall in Port Sudan witnessed the signing ceremony of the reconciliation document reached to contain the recent clashes between Nuba and Bani Amer in Port Sudan.

Several days of violent tribal clashes in Port Sudan earlier this month left at least 35 people dead and scored injured. A 100-vehicle strong unit of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan’s main government militia, was deployed to the city.

The clashes prompted the Sovereign Council to dismiss the governor and the head of the security service of Red Sea state and to declare a State of Emergency in Port Sudan.

In accordance with the text of the document signed by the two factions on Sunday, a federal fact-finding commission will be formed on the violent events, and to open a police station in the area where the fighting erupted, in addition to the payment of compensation of SDG 880 million ($18.7 million*).

It was also decided to collect all licensed and unlicensed weapons while considering the possibility of releasing those arrested during the clashes, and it was decided to hold a reconciliation conference between the conflicting tribesmen.

Member of the Sovereign Council, and commander of the RSF militia, Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ said that “the circumstances of the country require cooperation from all”.

He said upon receiving the signed reconciliation document that “the unfortunate tribal violence in Port Sudan came while the country is on the threshold of a real change towards citizenship rather than tribalism.

He called on the parties to the conflict to bear their responsibility and prevent new bloodshed. Sudan depends mainly on the port of Port Sudan. He stressed the government’s efforts to address the problems in the state, especially recurrent water and electricity outages.


September 9, 2019 News, Top news, Uncategorized

Kibreab Tesfamichael

BBC Tigrinya confirmed that Kibreab Tesfamichael, the government’s media head of sports department – ERI-TV, abandoned his post and refused to return to Eritrea while he was covering the 12th African Games held from 19 to 31 August 2019 in Rabat, Morocco.  The report stated that Mr Tesfamichael has been relocated to a third country now.

After graduating from Barka Secondary School in 1997 in Asmara, he joined the Arts College of Asmara for further studies. After Arts College he secured a rare placement at Asmara University and studied journalism for another three years. He was even luckier to be assigned to the Ministry of Information upon completion, an opportunity which is confined to a selected group of selected individuals.

Kibreab worked at the Ministry of Information for the last 15 years; he is an experienced sports journalist.  In 2016 he travelled to Brazil with Team Eritrea during the Games of the XXXI Olympiad (Rio 2016). He transmitted numerous stories from to Eritrea.

BBC has confirmed that Kibreab is out of Morocco at this moment; however, it is not known exactly which country has granted him asylum.

During his spare time Kibreab used to write lyrics and he is the author of the TV series ‘Aye seb’ (Oh man!).

Kibreab is the brother of the renowned journalist Natsinet Tesfamichael.


Scars and trauma run deep for Eritrean refugees

Sunday, 08 September 2019 11:25 Written by

Luxembourg Letter: Europeans have little idea of abuses used to solidify EU borders

Sally Hayden and Yosi in Luxembourg: Yosi (16) was told by authorities he was 25, perhaps to circumvent fact minors benefit from greater protection.

Sally Hayden and Yosi in Luxembourg: Yosi (16) was told by authorities he was 25, perhaps to circumvent fact minors benefit from greater protection.

It’s been one year since I first started getting messages from refugees locked up in Libyan detention centres. Using hidden phones, they risked brutal retaliation to send information about the horrors they were experiencing, and how the European Union is directly implicated. They hoped some good would come from this being exposed to the world, but little has changed since.

Libya, a war-torn country in North Africa, was once a key transit state for people trying to reach Europe. Since 2017, tens of thousands of refugees and migrants have been returned there from the Mediterranean Sea and locked up indefinitely. Most were intercepted by the EU-supported Libyan coast guard, under a deal aimed at stopping migration to Europe.

In detention, they face disease, sickness, forced labour and sexual violence. Tuberculosis is common. Medical care, food and water are lacking. Hundreds of children and minors are among the incarcerated, left without an education. Couples are separated. In one detention centre, at least 22 people died in eight months.

A small number manage to escape.

One of the first people to contact me from a Libyan detention centre was Yosi. He was being held with hundreds of others in Ain Zara, south Tripoli, when conflict broke out in August 2018. Buildings smoked around them, while fighters patrolled with anti-aircraft guns outside.

In April this year, war in Tripoli erupted again. A week into it, one of Yosi’s close friends, a 17 year old called Meron, died after throwing himself into a septic tank behind their detention centre. Meron was traumatised and depressed from all that he had experienced. “Today I hated living in this shameful world,” Yosi told me. “I lost my friend, brother, my everything . . . Meron was a good boy.”

Evacuated to Italy

In May, Yosi was evacuated to Italy by the United Nations Refugee Agency – one of a lucky few. He received little help from Italian authorities, and decided to travel on to Luxembourg, after seeing fellow Eritreans sleeping on the streets and worrying that would be his future.

Last month, I finally met him in person.

On my first day in Luxembourg, we talked for more than 10 hours. We walked around the city, through the caving park and by the ancient castles. We went back to the reception centre where he shared close quarters with dozens of other asylum seekers, all waiting for decisions on their cases.

The whole time we were discussing Libya and everything he has gone through. Yosi was tortured by smugglers and abused by Libyan guards. He has many scars: physical and mental.

Yosi doesn’t like being in cars anymore or any small spaces, because it reminds him of being locked up. He jumps at the sound of a slamming door or a dog barking.

A few days before we met there were fireworks, part of some festival. Yosi ran outside, believing the sound was heavy weapons. He wanted to know how far off the missile was.

Eritreans who flee towards Europe, like Yosi, are often underage. They escape before they are forced to begin a programme of indefinite, mandatory military service, which has been likened to slavery by the United Nations.

Ageing test

Though the UN Refugee Agency interviewed Yosi in Libya and gave him papers saying he was 16 years old, Luxembourg’s authorities accuses him of lying. They ordered a medical test designed to measure physical growth, which has been criticised as inaccurate by activists and aid workers. Afterwards, officials told Yosi he is 25.

“What’s at stake is big here: minors benefit from a much bigger protection,” Ambre Schulz told me last week. Schulz works at Passerell, an organisation that gives legal help to refugees and migrants in Luxembourg, including Yosi.

Shortly after my visit, Yosi was moved back to another detention centre, a crushing blow in the country he hoped to make his home. He may be deported back to Italy, where he was first fingerprinted. He’s hoping his case can be reconsidered.

Yosi’s age isn’t the only part of his story that has been questioned. He’s realising most Europeans have no idea of the gross human rights abuses being used to solidify EU borders. After he was taken to hospital in Luxembourg with an ankle injury, from playing football, he told one of the medical staff he has a problem remembering instructions because of the trauma in his past.

He spoke of detention centres in Libya, of torture and violence. He said she didn’t believe him. “She was confused,” he said. “She said like [/laughing/], is it a movie?”


PFDJ Militia in Norway Exposed

Saturday, 07 September 2019 10:30 Written by

September 7, 2019 News

Source: 9 hours ago Pencil">3


In recent years, the number of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in Europe has increased drastically.

Most of them claim to have escaped from the harsh indefinite military service imposed on them by the, “Peoples’ Front for Democracy and Justice” (PFDJ), the Eritrean ruling party.

The unelected PFDJ government has been in power since 1991; it is the only political party allowed to operate in Eritrea. The PFDJ is intolerant of any dissent to the extent that it has imprisoned veterans of the struggle and senior government officials due to their dissenting views. However, the imprisoned were never charged with any offense, and together with hundreds of others, most have been in jail for decades.

Out of the tens of thousands of refugees and asylees in the Diaspora, Norway hosts about 23,000 Eritreans. A considerable number among them are recent arrivals from Eritrea and have applied for asylum claiming to have fled from the oppressive military service in Eritrea.

On August 3, 2019, many of the recent arrivals who claimed to have fled rejecting the forceful service at Sawa military camp, were at the Bryn Eventhallen in Oslo to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the same Sawa military camp they fled from. Yemane Gebreab, a senior official of the PFDJ, whose official title blurs from presidential advisor, to the chief of the PFDJ’s diaspora youth organization, to shadowing Osman Saleh, the foreign minister, flew in from Eritrea to attend the Eventhallen celebration.

Many Eritrean exiles, particularly Eritrean Norwegians were furious about the ungratefulness of the refugees to Norway that accepted them with open hands and compassion.

As if confirming their claims were lies, many staged a show, at the Eventhallen, clad in military fatigue and PFDJ paraphernalia. The event was spiced with marching band music and lots of flags. And together with the guest of honor, Yemane Gebreab, they danced off the night promoting militarism thousands of miles away from the place where they claimed they fled from to avoid the indefinite military service.

The event raised many eyebrows after Norwegian media reported it, and it triggered a debate between Norwegian parties, mainly by those who want to curb immigration.

A source told the Norwegian Justice Minister has instructed the UDI (immigration department) to investigate the cases of those who have been granted asylum on false pretensions.

It’s likely the UDI will investigate people who pays the 2% tax to the PFDJ regime, those who travel to Eritrea on green passport in violation of the 1951 UN Convention of providing travel document to refugees, and those who promote the regime they claimed to have fled from.

Professor Kjetil Tronvoll,  a well-respected Norwegian scholar, was quoted by as saying: “It’s paradoxical… some people celebrate the regime, because they are regime supporters, even though they have been granted asylum on the grounds of fleeing the regime.”

The Norwegian Justice Ministry is likely to investigate  and revise the applications. Thus, the residence permits of many who were admitted to Norway on false claims could be revoked. Norway though a welcoming and tolerant country, it is very strict on falsification of immigration claims. It’s known to have expelled several longtime residents and achievers because they had made false claims in the past.

Eritrean Norwegian activists are determined to cooperate with the authorities to help identify falsifiers in order to protect innocent immigrants from being wrongly affected by any decision.

Since the last few weeks, suspected falsifiers are overwhelmed by anxiety because they never considered the possibility that authorities could pursue them seriously in the future for any false claim.

In addition to the falsifying, and in total disregard to the conditions of their acceptance as asylees, many of them travel back to Eritrea with Green Norwegian passports, and report on the activities of dissenters. They also harass and intimidate anti-PFDJ elements in the diaspora.

Green Norwegian passports are given to non-naturalized immigrants while holders of red Norwegian passports are full citizens.

Though shooting of photos and videos was not allowed at the August 3 event, many clips were leaked and found their way to social media platforms. Since the last few days, those whose pictures appeared are frantically trying to pull off the images from social media platforms without much success.

A longtime citizen of Norway wondered, “how can one leave his country because of the oppression of the regime and then celebrate it with pride!”

We, the undersigned Eritrean Justice-seeking (opposition) political parties, civic organizations, and study groups, met in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 22-23, 2019, under the auspices of Meadi-Zete/TempoAfricTv, to discuss the need to work together to advance our common political activities in pursuit of bringing democratic change in Eritrea. After meeting for two days discussing the various fundamental issues that are affecting the Eritrean political landscape, and enhancing our common understanding in addressing critical Eritrean political issues, we resolve that:

1. We will work together and coordinate our efforts to defeat the dictatorial regime and bring about democratic change in Eritrea;

2. We will take positive actions to support each other in areas of common national interest;

3. We will strive to coordinate our diplomatic activities;

4. We will work in coordination or coalition among each other towards creating a unified Eritrean opposition movement, including all peoples’ movements in and outside of Eritrea;

5. We support good neighborly relationships with all of Eritrea’s neighbors, however we condemn all forms of agreements that the morally and legally illegitimate dictatorial regime of Eritrea enters with any foreign government or entity since such agreements violate the sovereignty of the people of Eritrea;

6. We believe that the Eritrean defense and security forces are part of the oppressed masses of Eritrean society, and we call on them to stand with their people and be an instrument in charting the democratic change of Eritrea;

7. We recognize that transition from a dictatorial regime to a democratic government is both difficult and critical process, thus, we agree to work earnestly in the development and application of a common transitional charter;

8. We agree to create an implementation forum consisting of representatives from each of the signatories; and

9. We invite other political parties, civic organizations, and study groups to affirm this resolution and participate in the implementation forum.

Glory to our Eritrean Martyrs!
Long-live Sovereign Eritrea!



Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change


Eritrean National Front


Eritrean People Democratic Party


Walta Hayltat Lewti


Global Initiative of Eritreans to Empower Grassroots Movements


Eritrean Sinit Study Group


Source: the Conversation

July 22, 2019 3.31pm BST

Post-doctoral researcher, University of Trento

Disclosure statement

An Eritrean migrant leaves a detention facility near Nitzana in the Negev Desert in Israel, near border with Egypt. EPA-EFE/Jim Hollander

Isaias was 16 when he escaped from Sa’wa, the military training camp for final-year high school students in Eritrea. His parents came to know of his whereabouts only a few weeks after. From Sudan he tried to cross the Sinai to reach Israel. But he was kidnapped by bandits. His family paid a high ransom to save him.

Isaias returned to Addis Ababa, the capital of neighbouring Ethiopia, where I met him when he was 17. His family was supporting him financially and wanted him to remain there. But Isaias had different plans. A few months later he disappeared. As I was later to learn, he had successfully crossed from Libya into Europe.

This young man is part of a worrying statistic. Since around 2010, the flow of unaccompanied minors from Eritrea has significantly increased and has become the subject of international concern. In 2015, over 5000 unaccompanied minors from Eritrea sought asylum in Europe according to the Mixed Migration Centre. In 2018, the number was 3500.

Minors are only part of a wider exodus that involves mostly Eritreans in their twenties and thirties. The UN refugee agency calculates that at the end of 2018 there were over 500 000 Eritrean refugees worldwide – a high number for a country of around 5 million people.

Initially driven by a simmering border conflict with Ethiopia, this mass migration continues to be fuelled by a lack of political, religious and social freedom. In addition, there are little economic prospects in the country.

And generations of young people have been trapped in a indefinite mandatory national service. They serve in the army or in schools, hospitals and public offices, irrespective of their aspirations, with little remuneration. Even though Ethiopia and Eritrea have struck a deal to end their border conflict, there is no debate over the indefinite nature of the national service.

Brought up in a context where migration represents the main route out of generational and socio-economic immobility, most young Eritreans I met decided to leave. While unaccompanied minors are usually depicted as passively accepting their families’ decisions, my research illustrates their active role in choosing whether and when to migrate.

I explored the negotiations that take place between young migrants and their families as they consider departing and undertaking arduous journeys. But the crucial role of agency shouldn’t be equated to a lack of vulnerability. Vulnerability, in fact, defines their condition as young people in Eritrea and is likely to grow due to the hardships of the journey.

Context of protracted crisis

Young Eritreans often migrate without their family’s approval.

Families are aware that the country can’t offer their children a future. Nevertheless, parents are reticent about encouraging their children to take a risky path, a decision that can lead to death at sea or at the hand of bandits.

Young Eritreans keep their plans secret due to respect, or emotional care, towards their families. One 23-year-old woman who had crossed to Ethiopia a year before told me:

It is better not to make them worry for nothing: if you make it, then they can be happy for you; if you don’t make it, they will have time to be sad afterwards.

Adonay, another 26-year-old man, said:

If you tell them they might tell you not to do it, and then it would be harder to disobey. If they endorse your decision then they might feel responsible if something bad happens to you. It should be only your choice.

But that is not all. As a young woman told me,

The less they know the better it is in case the police come to the house asking questions about the flight.

Migration from Eritrea is mostly illegal and tightly controlled by the government, any connivance could be punished with fees or incarceration.

The journey

Eritrean border crossings are based on complicated power dynamics involving smugglers, smuggled refugees and their paying relatives, generally residing in Europe, US or the Middle East.

In this mix, smuggled refugees are far from being choice-less or the weak party.

Relatives are often scared of the dangers of border crossing through Libya to Europe. Moreover, some may not be able to mobilise the necessary funds. But young refugees have their ways to persuade them.

As payment to smugglers is typically made at the end in Libya and then after migrants have reached Italy, refugees embark on these journeys without telling their potential financial supporters in the diaspora. Once in Libya, they provide the smugglers with the telephone number of those who are expected to pay. This is an extremely risky gamble as migrants are betting on their relatives’ resources and willingness to help them.

Those who do not have close enough relatives abroad cannot gamble at all. Sometimes relatives struggle to raise the necessary amount and have to collect money from friends and larger community networks. Migrants then have to spend more time – and at times experience more violence and deprivation – in the warehouses where smugglers keep them in Libya. Migrants are held to hide them from authorities and ensure their fees are paid.

Even in these conditions, migrants don’t necessarily give up their agency. It has been argued that they,

temporarily surrender control at points during the journey, accepting momentary disempowerment to achieve larger strategic goals.

Moving beyond the common framing

Analysing the interactions between Eritrean families and their migrant children at different stages of their journeys can contribute to moving beyond the common framing of the “unaccompanied minor” characterised by an ambivalent depiction as either the victim or the bogus migrant.

These opposing and binary views of unaccompanied minors implicitly link deserving protection with ultimate victimhood devoid of choice. Instead, the stories of Eritreans show that vulnerability, at the outset and during the journey, does not exclude agency.