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Hot Food – Bring your plates – People to people solidarity in action

By Petros Tesfagiorgis The people to people extraordinary and successful campaign to help refuges shines a light on those living in squalid situation in Calais/France known as the “Jungle”. Serving refugees with hot-food for free symbolises

By Petros Tesfagiorgis

The people to people extraordinary and successful campaign to help refuges shines a light on those living in squalid situation in Calais/France known as the “Jungle”. Serving refugees with hot-food for free symbolises the concern of the British ordinary people, particularly the young, to their fellow human beings who are in search of a sanctuary and a home denied in their country of birth.

On Wednesday 10 February 2016 in a daily newspaper, Metro,   Susannah Butter wrote. “From street-food chefs and playwrights to nail artists and musicians – an army of volunteers has crossed the Channel and formed a community in the Jungle”. Susannah Butter talked with many of the pioneers   such as Ben Harrison, a 20 years old from Dulwich who is involved in building shelters in the jungle and was able to build hundreds.   There are lots of other activities taking place – feeding people, bringing warm clothes, building libraries, teaching English etc. Susannah wrote “Volunteer Liz Clegg, 50, has become a de facto mother to many of the boys who are here alone.  Clegg and her daughter Inca, 23, work with Citizens UK (1) to help the unaccompanied minors in the camp.

Established Eritreans in the UK hardly participates in these humanitarian activities. Giving support to refugees by Eritreans is shamefully politicized.   It is a consolation, however, to see very few Eritreans with conscience who regularly visit Calais with food and worm clothes. How about the opposition political or civil organisations. They do waste precious time bickering among each other.   Very little time is given to come up with a clear action plan and strategy that also addresses the refugees’ crises.

A typical example is the way a phantom group called    “Our voice” dismisses the Forum “Medrek”   as a top-down movement that quenches the thirst of the Medrakite for power.   Such attitude is typical of an arm chair revolutionaries who design solutions from their comfort zone in the West.  It is good on paper but not applicable to the reality on the ground (more on part 2).  On the contrary, it is bold initiative on the part of Medrek bringing together the various Eritrean political parties, who tried to unite over the years but failed, in a conference in Nairobi, Kenya and agree on a plan of action.   By working together   they can stand up to the new aggressive campaign to paint the oppressive regime in Eritrea a human face and to convince the international community that there is no human rights violations in Eritrea. It is also to justify the 200 million Euro grant from EU where there is a lot of criticism from the public.  To this end in this moment in time the regime’s strategy is three fold.

  1. Step up the work of the lobbyist campaign. The Eritrean government is getting help from a lobbyist Ms. Rudy Sandhu. She strategized a campaign titled “Eritrea, through the lens of Business and Sustainability” she first introduced this in a public meeting at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London on 12 December 2014. She justified the use of National Service – forced/slave labour which is the main reason that gave rise to the influx of huge number of refugees to exile.  Her campaign was summarized in her leaflet, based on her 69 page report of her visit to Eritrea. I quote “A nation that is keen to forge its own narrative and one of nation building through its rehabilitation and Diaspora Tax, National Service and emerging Natural Resource”. The natural resource is the mining.


  1. Intimidate and silence high profile human rights advocates like Professor Mirjam van Reisen – and Baroness Glenys Kinnock. As of recent the business man  Habte Hagos One of the “Focus Eritrea” founders who is engaged in challenging Ruby‘s report as flows in his 39 page critic is being intimidated on the phone.  He is taking this up with the British police.


  1. Put pressure on Eritreans in the Diaspora to sign that there is no human rights violations in Eritrea and they are economic migrants. This signature is to be used as a testimony again the report of the UN Inquiry Commission.


By Reinhardt Jacobsen | IDN- quoted from

AMSTERDAM (IDN) – A Court in Amsterdam struck down Meseret Bahlbi lawsuit against Mirjam van Reisen, Dutch professor and human rights advocate. The judge found that she was not guilty of libel and slander and that the youth party of the Eritrean regime can be seen as a means of collecting intelligence abroad. The decision comes as a huge relief not only for the Dutch professor, but also for the Eritrean Diaspora across Europe.

On 11 /02/2016, a lectures initiated by Ruby Sandhu in Collaboration with Westminster University took place at the University from 6.30 to 9.00pm. The title of the talk was “an Extractive Industry, Gender & Empowerment”.


The speakers were:  Dr Katy Jenkins a senior Lecturer in Sociology and co-director of the Centre for International Development at Northumbria University.

Seble Ephrem Chairman of Eritrean Relief Association (ERA-UK) who claimed active involvement in the resettlement and integration of Eritreans in the UK with an active interest in the role of gender and Eritrea.

Todd Romaine is the CSR VP for Nevsun Resources limited a mining company operating in Eritrea. He has a key role to ensure that the mine provides positive development within Eritrean Society.


Although it was open to public there were only 19 people. 4 from the justice seekers in UK, 3 or 4 supporters of the regime, 3 from the London Mining net Network who challenged Todd Romaine in the area  Nevsun‘s  complicity with the regime by employing   forced/slave labour from the national service.

Seble  was asked in line with aims and objectives of ERA-UK if  she sent aid  to Eritrean Refugee stranded in  the jungle Calais/France like what other humanitarian organisations are doing or any support to those more than 100,000 Eritreans languishing in refugee camps in the Sudan. She was very frank the answer was no. She said ERA-UK has projects inside Eritrea, unlike yesterdays, it is very small.  The truth is giving aid is shamefully politicized that is why the supporters of the regime and those who maintain the conspiracy of silence, keep a blind eye to the pains and suffering of the Eritrean refugees – their people, relatives and friends.   It a shameful history.  There was a remark that Seble is not the right person to talk about the heroine of women fighters during the long years of struggle because there are many of them in UK living as refugees running away from the country they liberated. They should be the ones to tell their story a real story.

Dr Katy did not show up to the meeting.  We learned afterwards that she dropped out after she was tipped off that the meeting was just a propaganda campaign.

What is amazing is that the meeting was covered by ERI-TV as a success during the week end. The few participants were replaced by larger audience.    This was in line with ERI-TV- slogan “Serving the truth” while the truth is shoved behind the curtain.

The various campaigns were not fruitful. The court incident has fired back and exposed the Young PFDJ as an arm of the regime which alerted the Dutch Government and people as it is widely covered by the media in Holland. It has serious implication throughout the EU countries.

On  the contrary all  these attempts to paint a human face to a dictator is giving rise to more  coverage of Eritrea and so more exposure of the regime as the perpetrator of gross human rights violation.

On 12/02/ 2016: On CBS TV in Canada:   Nevsun in Eritrea – Dealing with a dictator – the Fifth estate by Mark Kelly – exposure of human rights violation was covered – there Michaela wrong – stripped PFDJ of its cruelty and violation. The question in the CBS TV was: What is the price of doing business with a dictator?    

The World Post – US edition   wrote The Tiny African Nation Plays a Huge Role in the Refugee Crisis:  Thousands flee Eritrea’s brutal dictatorship every month for Europe.


The same day – 11 February- Ruby led a work shop.  I quote from news real “A workshop on natural resources development in Eritrea organized by the Eritrean Embassy in the UK was held in the city of London on 11 February.

The workshop was attended by industrial experts, representatives of financial institutions, investors, diplomats from South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Germany, Italy, Bolivia, and Venezuela, as well as Eritrean experts and journalists.

The regime by giving concessions to mining companies can have powerful friends to lobby the Western Governments to keep a blind eye to the gross human rights violations in Eritrea’s.  At the same time it represents a formidable challenge to all human rights activist and the opposition.



  1. Citizens UK:  organizes communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good. Community organizing democracy in action: winning victories that change lives and transform communities. They are home of community organizing in the UK, with diverse civil society alliances
  2. 2 Eritrean charity Organizations 1. Eritrean Refugees Support Association in UK (ERSA-UK) and Eritrean Elders Welfare Association (EEWA-UK are members of Citizens UK.
  3. Eritrea Focus: is an association of NGOs, human rights organizations and individuals exposing human rights abuses at Government and important institutions level. Eritrea focus is a member of London Mining Network and it is undertaking a research programme into the extractive industry in Eritrea due to commence soon.
  4. Solidarity people to people: is “Refugee Welcome” action group in the UK – who campaign humane treatment and proper settlement for refugees and provide basic necessities in the jungle to sustain life until they get resettlement. At present there are 85 groups all over the United Kingdom and formed a board to coordinate the activities.













Review overview
  • Berhe Tensea February 19, 2016

    Good job God bless you guys who are doing this wonderful service to the refugees.

    • Lule February 20, 2016

      Good job I always thing about those people and I won’t involve volunteering

  • Amanuele February 20, 2016

    You are one of the founders of ERA in the UK and your contribution was tremendous. Eritrea gained independence because of and others like you. What I ask my self-raising and never get an answer is people like Seble atlist she should ask reference from the expert like you who had gained enough expriance working with ERA. I fell sorry for my nation Eritrea because the country is marching road to hill.
    Advise to Seble support the regiem but you have lived most of your life in the UK and I am sure you had the chance to learn the bisc human right. As you are aged as well do good staff before you go to your cemetery in UK

  • Amanuele February 20, 2016

    Good bless you Petro, you know who used to call you that name the blood sacker man. You are very lucky you left before he eat you.

    • petros tesfagherghis February 21, 2016

      Dear Amanuel

      Indeed I am.


  • Eritreawit February 20, 2016

    Thank you for helping the refugees,

    We Eritreans should step up and do our part to help our people. You just inspired me I have friends in UK and at this time i am brain storming how to participate in these nobel work of your. Thank you again and Thank you Amanuel Eyassu and Assenna staff to bring this important news to us. GOD BLESS you all,. Eritrea and its people will prevail.

    • petros tesfagherghis February 21, 2016

      Thank you Eriteawit for trying to help refugees.
      There are a number of NGOs who tries to help refugees particularly in refugee camps in Sudan and Eritrea. Recently an NGO based in London headed by Feven Hadera is collecting books to open a library in Shimelaba.
      Dr Alganesh fisseha based in Italy has children feeding programme as well. If you give your e-mail to assenna I can give you more detail and even address to connect with.


      • Eritreawit February 21, 2016

        Petros tesfagherghis,
        OK, I ould like to help what I can and ask families and friends to help and involved too. Assenna aready have my email address ask them to give you. Thank you standing for justice in this hard times for our people in refugee camps all over.

  • AHMED SALEH !!! February 20, 2016

    Kubur ABI hawna Petros
    I heard many stories of your patriotic contribution to the nation we
    all adorn . Recently in NAZ radio tegadalay Hidray ( ELF-Fedaeen)
    mentioned your name while you guys were secretly active in Eritrean
    politics inside Asmera YMCA at that young age . Be proud brother .
    The truth speaks by itself and thanks for all testimonies that helped
    to straighten up facts for the record .
    Myself , I learned not to belittle courageous men based on wrong and
    biased information regardless partisan background . I wish you guys go back to main points where the dream initiated inside YMCA and finish the task in UNIONISM .

    • petros tesfagherghis February 21, 2016

      Thank you Ahmed Saleh for your kind words. Justice seekers in the Diaspora are exposing the gross human rights violations in Eritrea. At the end justice will prevail.


  • Hagherawi February 22, 2016

    Dear Petros,

    Are you a member of Medrek group ?, if yes, can you please tell us what they are trying to achieve ?. Are they trying to reform Higdef, as many people suspect, or are they trying to bring about fundamental changes that will remove Higdef regime from power ?
    Can you please elaborate on these issues ?

    Thank you

    • petros tesfagherghis February 23, 2016

      Hi Hagherawi
      I am not mmember of Medrek – I am more interested of helping refugees and I prefer to work as part of the civil society. I am also colomnist (writer) of events and dont want to be tied up by political party line if I am part of. I can’t see other than Medrek wont to end repression in Eritrea, and to see a united opposition in Diaspora, just what everyone wants. I believe the real change comes from inside Eritrea although the Diaspora political and civil organisations can play a pivotal role.

      • Hagherawi February 24, 2016

        Selamat Petros

        Thank you for replying.

        You said: ” I believe the real change comes from inside Eritrea although the Diaspora political and civil organisations can play a pivotal role.”

        I hope change to come from inside. Although there is very little possibility for that to happen, for the following reasons:

        1. An entire generation of young people left the country.

        2. The corrupt leadership of the regime, believes only in military might, a situation that invites others, mainly those based in Ethiopia, to talk to them in the same language. What follows could be not only change but disaster too.

        3. Those who can do something, many of them young Army officers, are busy with their daily life, trying to make ends meet. As we have seen in the case of Wedi Ali, they are not ready to do anything that puts their personal interests at risk.

        It’s not doom and gloom, but there is very little hope for change and peaceful transitions in Eritrea.

  • AHMED SALEH !!! February 23, 2016

    To be part of Ghedli generation for common goal shouldn’t identify
    us with ELF -EPLF leadership politics . To exercise our God given
    intelligence independently can create healthy atmosphere contrary
    the unnecessary barriers brought from partisan politics .
    Glad you distance yourself from these political group who refuse
    to engage with grassroots movement that failed our expectations .
    Regardless their weakness we rather encourage and support them to do better than irresponsible act of discouragement from our side .
    Change requires principled elements with progressive ideas and policies.

    • petros Tesfagherghis February 24, 2016

      Dear Ahmed

      That is the right thing to do to support them. At the same time extend constrictive criticism of their shortcomings particularly if we know people in the organisation closely.

      • AHMED SALEH !!! February 24, 2016

        Thanks for your response brother
        I used to say in this forum ;
        ” Let’s learn a lesson from our mistakes not to give unreserved
        support to any politician ” .
        Yours and others like you contribution will encourage these lost young
        generation .
        By the way your brother Dawit was my childhood friend in Comboni school and I met your mother couple of times in your house .I can reflect your personality with family background and the good name of your dad .
        Couple of years ago , we were in Eritrean restaurant and one guy said
        your father was generous man to help poor families in Arbaete Asmera
        with secret visits in early Sunday morning . Obviously no doubt .