‘Africa’s North Korea’: Why do people flee Eritrea?

More Eritreans filed for asylum in the UK in the year to June than any other nation. They face “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” at home, says the UN.



A recent United Nations report found that “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed in Eritrea under the authority of the government”.

Eritreans make up a large number of those fleeing across the Mediterranean to Europe – around 15 per cent of the total reaching Europe’s sea border are from the country.

And the reason commonly cited for the dangerous journey to Europe – Eritrea’s national service, which though legally compulsory for 18 months, in reality amounts to “indefinite enrollment in the military where conscripts are used as “forced labour”, according to the UN.

he UN report, which has been rejected by the Eritrean government as an effort to undermine the government, describes a country where people live in fear and officials and security forces carry out gross human rights violations with impunity.

Extra-judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrest all take place, the report says.

A former Eritrean interrogator told the UN: “Torture includes beating with whips, plastic tubes and electric sticks, standing [under the sun] on a very hot sunny day at noon, tying the hands and feet like the figure of eight, tying the hands and feet backwards (known as “helicopter”), tying to trees, forcing the head down into a container with very cold water, beating the soles of the feet and the palms.

UK’s tougher asylum controls for Eritreans

The UK Government has been accused of closing the door to thousands of asylum-seekers from Eritrea in an attempt to hit its discredited immigration target.

In March, the Government announced a new policy towards Eritrean asylum-seekers, saying that conscription is no longer automatic grounds for granting asylum because Eritrea has stopped the practice of indefinite military service.

However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticised the UK’s policy, saying it is based “almost exclusively” on a “discredited” Danish Government report.

The Danish document released this year claimed that Eritreans returning to their home country would not face punishment providing they signed a “letter of apology”. It also said that Eritrea had stopped the practice of indefinite military service.

HRW said there is “no evidence” that the Eritrean Government have made these changes on the ground. “The reliance on a weak and discredited report suggests the Home Office is more interested in keeping asylum seekers out than in protecting people in danger,” said Senior Researcher Gerry Simpson.

‘Africa’s North Korea’: Why do people flee Eritrea? – Channel 4 News.

Eritreans face new asylum battle in Europe

Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa, is not in the grip of war or famine. Yet around 5,000 Eritreans flee every month. Why?

Eritrean migrants in Rome

A damning United Nations Commission of Inquiry report blames the country’s “gross human rights violations”.

“Faced with a seemingly hopeless situation they feel powerless to change, hundreds of thousands of Eritreans are fleeing their country,” the UN says.

Rights abuses

IIndefinate national service is one of the main drivers, according to the report. Everyone from the age of 17 can be conscripted into the military, and it continues for years. Some conscripts have served for more than 20 years.

UN investigators say “slavery-like practices” are widespread, with conscripts subjected to hard labour, with poor food, bad hygiene and wretched pay.

The Eritrean government has dismissed the UN’s findings as “totally unfounded and devoid of all merit”.


Yet for most Eritreans, it is impossible to get an exit visa to leave the country legally. And by fleeing conscription they risk being arrested as “traitors” if they return.

The EU cannot send Syrian refugees back to their war-torn country.

And Eritreans’ asylum claims have generally been treated as legitimate in the EU.

But despite the abuses in Eritrea, documented by the UN and human rights groups, some countries are now considering sending Eritreans home.

Policy shift

Danish Immigration Service report, from November 2014, suggested that Eritrea’s policy towards returnees had become more lenient. It was based on a fact-finding mission, but did not name its sources.

It quoted the Eritean Foreign Ministry as saying Eritreans abroad could now “regularise their relationship with the authorities” by paying a 2% income tax at an Eritrean embassy and signing an apology letter.

The ‘jungle’ is where migrants wait in the hope of jumping onto a moving truck and hitchi

“This has been done by a number of people and they have returned to Eritrea without any complications,” the report said, quoting a ministry statement.

But the ministry gave “no specific information” about whether Eritrea’s national service would be changed.

The report was criticised by Danish media and Human Rights Watch, which described it as “more like a political effort to stem migration than an honest assessment of Eritrea’s human rights situation”.

The Norwegian government sent its own assessment team to Eritrea. It was led by Norway’s Deputy Minister of Justice Joeran Kellmyr.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Kellmyr said he had received an assurance from Eritrea’s foreign minister that national service would be reduced to 18 months.

“It’s important for everyone,” said Mr Kellmyr.

“If national service is reduced, according to human rights standards, this could mean that a lot of Eritrean people don’t any more have the right to seek asylum.”

In December UK officials also visited Eritrea to discuss the migration problem.

And in March this year a new UK policy towards Eritrean asylum-seekers was announced.

New guidelines stated that conscription would no longer be automatic grounds  for granting asylum, since national service would no longer continue indefinitely.

But an Eritrean migration expert, Prof Gaim Kibreab, said there was “no evidence” for the UK guidelines’ assertion that “national service is generally between 18 months and four years”.

Eritrean migrants face new asylum battle in EU – BBC News.

Eritrea: Escape from modern-day Sparta

An estimated 305,000 Eritreans, or five per cent of the population, have left the country, making them one of the largest groups of migrants into Europe.

Eritrean shipwreck survivor Wegasi Nebiat, looks on after boarding a ferry on the southeastern island of Rhodes, Greece on Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pictured as she was rescued from a stricken boat off the Greek island of Rhodes, the terrified face of Wegasi Nebiat last week became the symbol of Europe’s migration crisis.

The 24-year-old was among more than 100 migrants on a rickety craft that capsized en route from Turkey, drowning three of its occupants. But images of her being plucked to safety by a burly Greek rescuer have also put the spotlight on her homeland of Eritrea - a harsh, brutal dictatorship dubbed “Africa’s North Korea”.

The tiny Horn of Africa nation, which won independence in 1993 after a 30-year civil war with Ethiopia, is run as a one-party state by former guerrilla leader Isaias Afwerki and his cronies. Thousands of political prisoners languish in jail, no elections have been held in 20 years, and like Kim Jong-un’s hermit regime in Pyongyang, the country is off limits to foreign media and human rights groups.

However, one thing that Eritrea’s closed, secretive government cannot hide is how its population of just six million is now among the biggest customers of the people traffickers of the Mediterranean. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says that of the 200,000 migrants who made the crossing last year, some 18 per cent, or nearly one in five, were Eritreans like Ms Nebiat. Only refugees from Syria, with its brutal civil war, made up more at 31 per cent.

An estimated 305,000 Eritreans, or five per cent of the population, have now left the country, fleeing torture, a stagnant economy, and conscription into a vast standing army that often amounts to little more than slavery.

Eritrea: Escape from modern-day Sparta – Telegraph.

The civil disobedience in Adikeih stops the regime from destroying more homes.

Adikeih March 2013  Child on the remains of destryed home

 (Photo above: Adikeih March 2015 –  innocent child sitting on the remains of her destroyed home)

In the southern city of Eritrea in the town of Adikeih, the regime’s  troops confronted by angry men and women to stop them from destroying their homes. When the armed forces headed to the area (mainly populated by Saho speaking people) to demolish their homes.  Hundreds  of residents came out to streets in solidarity of the victims. Many innocent civilians  were seriously injured and were taken into makeshift  prisons outside the town denying them basic medical attention. It has been reported that a number of  casualties  were died of their wounds, hours after the vicious attack. This resistance and civil  disobedience by brave Adikeih residents have halted the regime’s plans from  demolishing more houses in Adikeih and elsewhere.

Adikeih March 2015 The regime destroying homes

(Photo above: Adikeih March 2015 – The regimes destroying civilian home)

Adikeih March 2013 Attacking unarmed citizens

(Adikeih March 2015 – There is no honour in attacking unarmed civilians) 

Threatening citizens either to pay unimaginable sums of money or face the risk of their homes being destroyed is now increasingly a common practice to feed the beast and generate money. It’s hopes this civil disobedience by heroic Adikeih residents would make the regime think twice before acting to destroy homes.


Reported Release on Bail of Six Journalists in Eritrea

Reported Release on Bail of Six Journalists in Eritrea

Press Statement

Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 27, 2015

The United States welcomes reports of six journalists released on bail in Eritrea. We note with deep concern that the government continues to detain other journalists, reportedly as many as 17. We encourage the government to take immediate steps to release these additional detainees, all persons detained on the basis of their religious beliefs, members of the G-15, and all other political prisoners. The United States continues to urge that the Government of the State of Eritrea take comprehensive steps to respect human rights and avail its citizens of their fundamental freedoms.

Reported Release on Bail of Six Journalists in Eritrea.

.بريطانيا تفسد على اليمنيين والصوماليين جلسات القات

دخول قرار حظر العشب المخدر حيز التنفيذ، وتعليمات ‘تعجيزية’ لرجال الشرطة قبل التعرض للمشتبه بهم احتراما للعادات الاجتماعية


لندن – أصدرت رابطة كبار ضباط الشرطة في بريطانيا تعليمات إلى ضباطها باللجوء إلى “تقديراتهم الشخصية” بشأن تطبيق القانون على نبات القات، الذي دخل حظره حيز التنفيذ في المملكة المتحدة ابتداء من الثلاثاء.

والقات هو منشط عشبي خفيف يستخدم على نطاق واسع من قبل الجاليات اليمنية والصومالية والاثيوبية في بريطانيا.

ويمضغ المستخدمون أوراق النبات المرة لما فيها من تحفيز طبيعي. ومن المفترض أن تجعلهم أكثر انتباها، وأن تزيد من معدلات الطاقة، وهي الحجة التي يستخدمها مؤيدو القات، إذ يقولون إنه غير ضار كالقهوة والشاي.

وقالت الرابطة، ضمن سلسلة التعليمات الصادرة التي نشرتها صحيفة “الغارديان” البريطانية، أن على الضباط، اثناء تطبيق سياسة انفاذ حظر القات المعروفة باسم “الضربات الثلاث”، الأخذ في الاعتبار ان عشب القات “لم يكن ممنوعا من قبل عبر تاريخ الدول التي تتصل بها تلك الجاليات في اليمن والقرن الافريقي”.

أكبر مناطق زراعة القات في العالم تقع في شرق أفريقيا وشبه الجزيرة العربية ويستهلك أوراق القات عن طريق المضغه والتخزين في الفم، أو تدخينها أو غليها وشربها مثل الشاي للحصول على تأثير يماثل تأثير مخدر آمفيتامين.

ورغم التأثير السلبي للقات على المنظومة العصبية للدماغ ظلت بريطانيا تبيح استيراده واستهلاكه حتى الوقت الحاضر وتصنفه كأحد الخضروات رغم منعه في باقي بلدان القارة. وقد منعت السويد القات منذ عام 1989.

وأصرت وزيرة الداخلية البريطانية تريزا ماي على قرار الحظر رغم معارضة حزب الديمقراطيين الاحرار، وضد التوصية التي تقدمت بها لجنة مستشاري وزارة الداخلية لمكافحة المخدرات التي لم تحبذ في تقاريرها حظر القات.

لكن وزيرة الداخلية أصرت على موقفها من قرار الحظر، وعزت ذلك إلى مخاوف من تحول بريطانيا إلى مركزا عالميا لتجارة العشب المخدر، بعد صدور قرارات مماثلة بحظره في معظم دول الاتحاد الاوروبي الاخرى.

وتوفر تجارة القات 15 مليون يورو في العام للاقتصادات الأفريقية التي تصدر النبات للمملكة المتحدة، وهو أحد الأسباب التي دفعت نواب البرلمان في لجنة الشؤون الخارجية إلى معارضة المنع.

وتفرض سياسة “الضربات الثلاث” الجديدة عقوبات على متعاطي القات تبدأ باصدار تحذير لمن يضبط معه العشب المخدر لأول مرة، ودفع غرامة فورية قدرها 60 جنيها استرليني في حالة ضبطه مع الشخص نفسه للمرة الثانية، ثم الاعتقال والإحالة للقضاء في المرة الثالثة.

ويرى نشطاء حقوقيون ان رجال الشرطة البريطانيين سيجدون صعوبة بالغة في تطبيق السياسات الجديدة لحظر نبات القات، خصوصا وأن التعليمات الصادرة لهم من رابطة كبار ضباط الشرطة تفرض على ضابط الوردية ان يكون “خبيرا” في تحديد نوع النبات المستخدم او ان يستدعي ضابطا اخر يستطيع تمييز القات عن الاعشاب الاخرى غير المحظورة قبل اصدار التحذير او الغرامة بحق المشتبه به.

كما أن الضباط لن يكونوا قادرين على توقيع الغرامة او اعتقال المشتبه به في حال قرر الأخير مضغ القات الذي بحوزته قبل اعتقاله، لان الدليل على الواقعة (العشب) في هذه الحالة سيتم تدميره ومن ثم سيصعب على المحققين اعتباره دليلا.

أمر طبيعي ان يوجد على الدوام أشخاص يدمنون بشكل ما، وإن لم يحصلوا على القات ربما سيتجهون الى مواد أخرى قد تكون مخدرات أو كحول، لكن قسما كبيرا من متعاطي القات سيتوقفون عن تعاطيه، وسيحصلون على فائدة كبيرة من منع بريطانيا للقات.

وتشير بيانات الهيئة الوطنية للخدمات الصحية في انجلترا عن عام 2010/2011، إلى أن 112 شخص ممن يخضعوه للعلاج من تعاطي المخدرات بدؤوا التعاطي بالقات.

ويعتبر القات المحفز الرئيس في الجلسات الخاصة التي تجمع أبناء الجاليات الصومالية واليمنية والإثيوبية في بريطانيا، ويمتد تأثير منعه اجتماعيا، اذ ان ابناء تلك الجاليات ينظرون إلى القرار على انه منع لتجمعاتهم الخاصة.

بريطانيا تحذّر من هجوم جديد لتنظيم’حركة الشباب’ الصومالي في جيبوتي

لندن تؤكد توافر معلومات ذات صدقية تفيد ان ‘حركة الشباب’ تنوي ولديها القدرة على مهاجمة اهداف عديدة ومنها مصالح غربية

حذرت وزارة الخارجية البريطانية الخميس من ان متمردي حركة الشباب المتشددة المرتبطين بتنظيم القاعدة، يعدون لهجمات اخرى في جيبوتي حيث اعلنوا مسؤوليتهم عن اعتداء انتحاري اواخر ايار/مايو.

وقالت الخارجية البريطانية على موقعها في شبكة الانترنت “تتوافر معلومات ذات صدقية تفيد ان حركة الشباب تنوي ولديها القدرة على مهاجمة اهداف في جيبوتي ومنها مصالح غربية”.

وتشارك كتيبة جيبوتية من الف رجل في قوة الاتحاد الافريقي المنتشرة منذ 2007 في الصومال لقتال حركة الشباب الاسلامية، والتي ألحقت بها في السنتين الماضيتين سلسلة هزائم عسكرية. وارتفع عدد عناصر القوة اخيرا الى 22 الفا.

وجيبوتي، المستعمرة الفرنسية السابقة التي حصلت على استقلالها منذ 1977، والواقعة على مدخل البحر الاحمر، تضم ايضا قاعدة عسكرية اميركية كبيرة، هي الوحيدة في افريقيا التي تنطلق منها العمليات ضد المجموعات الاسلامية في اليمن والصومال وبقية انحاء القارة الافريقية.

وتنشر فرنسا ايضا فرقة عسكرية في جيبوتي التي يستخدم مرفأها بالتالي قاعدة لعمليات بحرية دولية ضد القراصنة الصوماليين في المحيط الهندي.

واضافت الخارجية البريطانية ان “جيبوتي والمصالح الغربية في جيبوتي هدف شرعي على ما يبدو لحركة الشباب بسبب دعمها الحكومة الصومالية ومشاركتها في مهمة السلام التي يقوم بها الاتحاد الافريقي”.

وقتل شخص واحد على الاقل اواخر ايار/مايو بالإضافة الى الانتحاريين الاثنين واصيب عدد كبير في اعتداء انتحاري على مطعم في وسط مدينة جيبوتي يؤمه الاجانب، وهو اول هجوم في جيبوتي منذ انضمت الى قوة الاتحاد الافريقي في 2011.

واعلنت حركة الشباب الاسلامية مسؤوليتها عن الاعتداء، مؤكدة انها استهدفت “التحالف الصليبي الغربي المتمركز في جيبوتي”، ولا سيما “الصليبيين الفرنسيين” وللانتقام من جيبوتي التي “وقعت ميثاقا مع الشيطان” بقبولها ان تقيم واشنطن قاعدة على اراضيها.

وحذرت لندن ايضا هذا الاسبوع مواطنيها من مخاطر وقوع اعتداءات تستهدف الاماكن العامة التي تبث مباريات كأس العالم في كرة القدم في عدد من بلدان شرق افريقيا، وخصوصا جيبوتي واثيوبيا وكينيا واوغندا التي تشارك في القوة الافريقية.

وقتل 76 شخصا على الاقل في 2010 في كمبالا في عملية انتحارية مزدوجة اعلنت مسؤوليتها عنها حركة الشباب الاسلامية واستهدفت مركزين كانا يبثان مباريات كأس العالم في كرة القدم.

Missing Eritrean Footballers Turn up in Netherlands After Two Years

Many footballers probably wish they could vanish from public sight after a bad mistake or a heavy defeat – but few sportsmen went as far as a team from Eritrea, who all disappeared en-masse and have now resurfaced on a different continent.

Eritrea players fled their country and made their way to the Netherlands

Many footballers probably wish they could vanish from public sight after a bad mistake or a heavy defeat – but few sportsmen went as far as a team from Eritrea, who all disappeared en-masse and have now resurfaced on a different continent.

The 17 footballers from the horn of Africa have turned up in the Netherlands, nearly a year and a half after they suddenly vanished during a tournament in Uganda.

They however did not make the dangerous voyage from Africa to Europe to flee from the ire of critics or fans – but because they were desperate for a better life, away from their home in the north-east of the continent.

Having arrived in the Netherlands via Romania, many of the squad are currently eking out a living in the Dutch town of Gorinchem and are familiar to the local food bank – which hands out parcels to people in need.

The life the players are living in their new home could not be further removed from the wealth and riches lavished upon the game’s most famous performers. According to the head of the food bank, they lack even the basics for accommodation.

Arie van Hoven said: “They arrived with nothing. We’ve been looking for furniture and mattresses for them.”

“They wanted to stay together as a group and that was possible here,” he said.

“They are going to integrate and need an education. Then they will be able to build a new life.”

Life in Eritrea obviously did not hold much attraction for the players, who were reportedly reluctant to reveal too much about their identities for fear of government reprisals back home.

Lilving standards in the country bordering the Red Sea are low, with 7% of people unable to feed themselves on their earnings, according to a 2011 UN report.

Eritrea is also blighted by recent wars with neighbouring Ethiopia, though a burgeoning industry in gold mining offers hope that wealth and living standards can rise.

Source: ibtimes