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We know how many Eritrean children reach Europe on their own, but not how many die trying – UN expert

NEW YORK (28 October 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, expressed alarm about continuing human rights violations in the country resulting in mass departures. She warned the UN General

NEW YORK (28 October 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, expressed alarm about continuing human rights violations in the country resulting in mass departures. She warned the UN General Assembly about the high number of children fleeing from Eritrea without their parents.

“By mid-October, more than 4,000 Eritrean minors had arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year, including more than 3,200 children travelling without their parents,” Ms. Keetharuth said, quoting recent data collected by the UN Refugee Agency.

“The numbers provided only reflect those who make it to Europe. We do not know how many children perish along the flight,” the human rights expert stressed. “In all circumstances, unaccompanied minors require special protection.”

The children risk their lives, travelling on their own or with friends, to escape from looming military training and conscription amounting to forced labour, to join family members or in the hope of finding their rights protected across borders. They are very vulnerable and run the risk of exposure to abuse and violence, including falling in the hands of traffickers and smugglers who ask for ransoms from their families.

Eritreans are escaping systematic and widespread human rights violations, such as indefinite forced conscription and violations in the context of the national service, arbitrary arrests and detention, incommunicado detention, inhumane prison conditions, extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture.

“In recent months, we have seen a considerable increase in Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees crossing into neighbouring countries with almost 4,000 fleeing on a monthly basis,” she said. Significantly higher numbers of Eritreans are arriving in Europe. Between January and September 2014, 32,537 Eritreans arrived in Italy by boat. With Syrians, Eritreans constitute the largest group of arrivals.

The Special Rapporteur noted that the situation has deteriorated in the context of the attempted coup in January 2013, dubbed as the ‘Forto incident’. An unknown number of people, though the numbers quoted are as high as 800, including public figures, were reportedly arrested and detained, with no information as to their whereabouts, nor have they appeared before any court of law.

“The violations described are committed with impunity. No perpetrators have been brought to justice,” Ms. Keetharuth stated. “This is why I welcome the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the Human Rights Council to investigate all alleged violations of human rights in Eritrea, as outlined in my reports.”

The expert called on the Eritrean Government, the Eritrean people, in and outside of the country, as well as the international community to cooperate with both the Commission’s and her mandate. “I remain fully committed to continue delivering on the mandate entrusted to me by the Human Rights Council in a constructive, transparent, independent and impartial manner and look forward to starting work as a member of the Commission of Inquiry,” she said.

The Special Rapporteur welcomed Eritrea’s accession to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in September, which was long overdue. “I hope this is an indication of Eritrea’s willingness to comply with the prohibition of torture under international law,” she said.

Sheila B. Keetharuth was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea during the 21st Session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2012. She took her functions on 1 November 2012. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. A lawyer from Mauritius, she has extensive experience in monitoring and documenting human rights violations, advocacy, training and litigation in human rights in Africa. Learn more, log on to:

Check the Special Rapporteur’s latest report to the UN Human Rights Council (A/HRC/26/L.6):

UN Human Rights, country page – Eritrea:

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André-Michel Essoungou, (+1 917 367 9995 / Cell: +1 917 940 0685 /
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In Geneva:
Birthe Ankenbrand (+41 22 928 9465 / or write to

Review overview
  • Ahmed salih October 30, 2014

    Do you really think the eritrean people is stupid enough to work with you evil mission, no thank

    • ahmed saleh October 30, 2014

      Hey , you missed to see the message that she spoke for the unfortunate Eritrean people who became victims of your master oppressive policy . And I agree stupid
      enough people are too blinded not to see the reality at stake . We also heard
      enough the word of ADNA XUBUK ALO from shameless and arrogant mouth pieces .
      But the truth speaks clearly at every Eritrean family members unless we try to
      ignore facts for selfish personal reason .

      • M.HAGHOS October 30, 2014

        This is not that Ahmed who comments every time in asena fur sure this is an other Ahmed Salih or someone using his name.

        • ahmed saleh October 30, 2014

          Thanks M. Haghos
          Who knows he might did it purposely to cause confusion
          among participants in this forum .

      • Ahmed salih October 30, 2014

        My friend ,don’t worry I took my time to read her stupid report but reading her report is not the point. No matter what she does or report it will never ever do any good to our people or our country because I think we have 2 sanctions over our country for few years now but Issaias still there and more people are leaving the country. We don’t need UN report to tell us what’s going on in our country, we know it I think we just came from it but unless we face the dictator ourself ,nobody will face him for us unless they have their own agenda.i know you don’t like it but I am against any foreign involvement in our eritrean business period. Eritrean problem need eritrean solution not agame,UN or western idiots

    • Awet October 30, 2014

      Poor Ahmed:

      When are your going to pack and live in the world of hgdef? Please stop talking about the Eritrean people because the Eritrean people and hgdef are two of the opposite.
      Hgdef adina gidef

  • WediHagher October 30, 2014

    “Do you really think the eritrean people is stupid enough to work with you evil mission, no thank”

    Ahmed salih

    Your boss and you are the ultimate losers … Higdef’s days are counted.

  • Haile Mengisteab October 30, 2014

    Poor Ahmed ,As Eritrean i am committed to work with the commission of inquiry till your boss the tyrant DAI ousted from power once for all,Remember you will pay heavy price for your words when my country is liberated from you guys,it is now a matter of time ,Rascals ,change is imminent

  • semere 2 October 30, 2014

    The report of Sheila B. Keetharuth is accurate and to the point. My only problem is that this is not the first time that she is alerting the UN about the disastrous and catastrophic situation of Eritrea. Even other sources have said it in different occasions. Why is the UN taking so long to take a decisive action to save the Eritrean people as it is doing in Somalia, Congo, Central Africa, Nigeria, Iraq, Syria and many other countries. Unless the Eritrean situation is addressed decisively I am very skeptic about the endless reports of the UN concerning our suffering. Reports and verbal condemnations don’t solve the problems of Eritrea. Isayas and HGDEF are laughing at their toothless reports.

  • kk October 30, 2014

    Ahmed you and those like are garbage of Eritrea you will be put in the garbage bin soon

  • Alem October 30, 2014

    Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth, please save Eritrea from this brutal Dictator that the world have not seen. I know Eritrea is poor and have no oil like Iraq or Kuwait to attract powerful nations to help us, but as a special rapporteur to the UN and with plenty of evidence in your hand….please take this Mafia Dictator to ICC for crimes against humanity and genocide. How on earth Kenyatta charged in ICC for minor involvement when the Dictator in Eritrea is 1000 times brutal than any African leader? Eritrea is ruled under this Dictator Isaias Afwerki who is originally from Tigray and who is out there committing genocide against “Dekebat Eritreans”, against “Kunama people”, and against “Afar people”?

  • M.HAGHOS October 30, 2014

    isiyas or woddi khommarit has one hobby and one dream which is replace Eritean people by Tegaro ( Tigray Tigrinia state ) the past and now has saying that ( before with woyane and now with Demhit ) and the corakor who is him are brain washed by his fools or he made them to sleep till he got alternative one or put them one by one in his jail Weddi Khommarit Isiyas hate anything hold Eritrean name .
    Unfortunately a lot of Eritrean become selfish and the flow him when he gave them their brother’s properties and made them unique than others he made all the regime’s policies to them ‘but thy Di not know these is dictators behaviours .

  • Mulue October 30, 2014

    We Eritreans almost all need Change!!! I Hope the UN must apply economic sanction on Eritrea!!! Action is better than words!!!! I am board reading and listening the human right report!!! The international community can assist to solve our critical issues !!! we lost almost one generation !!!!!!

    • Zeray October 30, 2014


      Let us not expect for the UN to do anything for us, for when it comes to action it is very rare they get involved in a practical way. The problem and solution is on Eritreans. I am encouraged to see more and more Eritreans are now waking up and are almost ready to say enough is enough and drive out the lawless dictator regime from Eritrea. Don’t give up, keep the pressure and change is inevitable. I know this because if you compare the political environment between now and two years ago, it feels like we have now majority of Eritreans on the right side of history and wanting to free themselves from the shackles of the government.

      I say thank you to Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth for reporting, it adds credibility to the world and works against the propaganda machine of PFDJ.

  • abbysinia October 30, 2014

    There are PFDJ paid agents infiltrated in the opposition camps. By using pseudo names, they sneak in every website as well as Pal talks and write something that seems opposition to the Machiavellian regime; however, their involuntary actions expose their evil mission. Whatever, they do the fall of the regime is apparent. It is alarming that huge number of kids are missing in wilderness. Why are the Eritreans unable to vanquish their baseless fears? Why are the former fighters watching on the loss of the beautiful nation they fought for its rebirth? It is mind boggling while foreigners lament on the fast deteriorating conditions, the owners fiddle while Eritrea burns. Is that you developed compassion fatigue due to continuous wars and crises?. You should desensitize yourselves to fight against the vipers.

  • aus 17 October 30, 2014

    It sadens me to see the double moral of European Union supporting with milions Euros for the dictator from where thousands are fleeing and yet hugging the ugly face of the authoritarian regime, instead of pressing him more to quit and by extension saving this helpless, frustrated youths to see bright future in their minds and stay at home!
    What a double game, enough is enough.