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The Refugee Crises: Where is Eritrea heading?

  By Petros Tesfagiorgis Hitsat  Refugee camp: Thousands of Eritreans are languishing in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan for years:   In 2014-2015 as part of EU strategy to stem the flow of refugees, the Eritrean regime


By Petros Tesfagiorgis

Hitsat  Refugee camp: Thousands of Eritreans are languishing in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan for years:  

In 2014-2015 as part of EU strategy to stem the flow of refugees, the Eritrean regime promised the EU to limit the indefinite national service to 18 months. But the regime refused to honour it. The EU made a U turn and chose to sacrifice the life of the refugees, condone repression in Eritrea and give grant to the Eritrean regime to prevent Eritreans fleeing the country.

However, the flow of refugees from Eritrea is continuing unabated.   On 20/10/2017 Voice of America (VOA) quoted International Organisation for Migration (IOM) saying last year 21,250   Eritrean refugees arrived in Ethiopia. This year starting from March 2017 up to this month (October) the number of arrivals is more than 20,000. 100 people arrive in Ethiopia every day. IOM said 46% of those arriving are aged between 18 and 24 years old.  They are the most productive members of the society. As one scholar said “Eritrea has become the fastest emptying country in the world.”   These is frightening. All the young flowers are disappearing from their home land.

The EU is giving funds to the Sudanese Government and Libya to do the same. All these is putting the life of thousands of refugees at risk. On top of that it is reported that the US is to deport 700 Eritreans refugees. It is a moment in time where refugee crises is unfolding.  It is time that the Eritreans in Diaspora rise and stand up against the injustices faced by the people of Eritrea at home and in exile.

One of the profound questions we have to pose is: Where is Eritrea heading?

To date, all those concerned with the unending repression in Eritrea are trying hard to stand up to the Challenges.

The most significant is the conference in Brussel on 19 and 20 October titled ‘Eritrea and the Ongoing Refugee Crisis’. It was organised by the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights,  Europe External Policy Advisors, Förderverein Pro Asyl e.V., Connection e.V., War Resisters’ International and the Eritrean Law Society.  I quote from their press release “The conference was a public event attracting an audience of over a 100 people from more than 30 organisations including supporters of the Eritrean Government”

 This is a very good beginning. The initiative of 6 organisation 4 international and 2 Eritrean is exemplary.  It heralds united effort in the activities to defend refugees.  One of the key output from the discussions was to set up an information sharing platform where all groups can upload information and make it available for others

Following the public event, participants sympathetic to the welfare of asylum seekers in Europe issued a statement condemning the comment of Donald Tusk, the President of European Council, in which he claims it would be both easy and desirable to close the central Mediterranean route to those fleeing to Europe including Eritrea”

One of the speakers Martin Plaut in his article titled “A packed international conference took place in Brussel” said   “The UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea (Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth) emphasises the gravity of human rights violations in Eritrea

She said,” in spite of the EU decision the Eritreans are taking risks to leave the country” highlighting that there is no improvement in the violation of human rights in Eritrea.

Two other meetings has taken place as well.  One is organised by Medrek from 20 to 22 October 2017 in Frankfurt, Germany. Present were representatives of 40 civil societies and political organisations and individuals. They came out with a Memorandum of Understanding that defined the vision, mission, the principles and core values that will shape the destiny of democratic Eritrea.

I read the memorandum thoroughly with interest.  A useful document, I might add. On closer inspection, I strongly feel that the foundation and cornerstone for this document should have emanated from a concrete analyses of the current situation inside Eritrea. “Actionable items” can only be realized if there was an action plan, explaining how points 4.1 to 4.3 can be attained. What is needed is action oriented plan (short, medium, and long term). It is also crucial to address the present refugee crises where Eritrean refugees are denied sanctuary in Europe. The refugee crises is central to the anti-refugee politics in Europe and beyond where Amnesty International, Journalists without borders, the organisation that participated in Brussel and many journalists  have risen up to defend the  plight of refugees. The second one, is a conference in Ethiopia by the political organisation of more than 20.

Another activity is, Eritreans in the US are appealing for signatures to stop the deportation of 700 Eritrean refugees. The justice seekers have more lobby to do as the US is showing interest to make friends with the regime and would not like to leave the exploitation of minerals to the Chines. Thanks to the Eritrean, Somalia and Djibouti Governments their hostility to each other have opened the door to outside forces in the Red Sea to open their military bases to the Saudis, Emirates, Turks, USA, Israel, and the Iranians. The population of the area are marginalized. They have no say in the decisions that affect their lives.

At the same time, the Global leadership (GL) has stepped up its campaign and set a date, 15 November 2017 to conduct election of baitoes (assembly) in their respective chapters or towns and move to the election of global leadership. However, they too need to assess the present critical situation and come out with an   orientated action plan.  They have an option to support the campaign to stop the deportation of 700 refugees in the United States and to be involved in peace campaign.

The joint statement by “Our Voice” and the New Eritrean Movement is very interesting. It is a road map towards achieving the goal for democratic change in Eritrea.

To be continued on part 2

Review overview
  • Ermiyas October 27, 2017

    The poor Warsai generation has never known what it means to “own a country”. The evil-all-alien-loving ghedli, true to their colonial aspiration, have clearly shown them (to the poor Warsai generation) that the country belongs to the new colonial masters from evil Sahel. Consequently, Warsai’s lives on this cursed land as slaves have been hell on earth. There are no good memories that could feed their nostalgia attached to this land. If so, how is it possible for them to feel the loss of “Eritrea” that they never owned in the first place.
    If planet Mars were to be air-conditioned and fully refurbished in the near future, Eritreans would try to board the interplanetary spacecraft by any means necessary. Don’t worry Eritreans – you are not alone! The human race might be doing just that in a couple of a hundred years. The question is – why the hurry? In its 127 yrs of ‘existence’ – from its formation as an Italian colony in 1890 to present – migration, dislocation, relocation, refugees, boot people, and displacement have been, as if they are part and parcel of its ‘birthright’. The most consistent and persistent features that framed its ‘disability’ to settle in relative peace within its own borders.
    So far and for the last 56 yrs, what happened or is still happening in Eritrea is nothing short of a self-inflicted genocide in slow action and in which Eritreans themselves are active participants or silent witnesses in their own act of self-extermination with a twisted sentimentality they have for Eritrean ‘martyrs’ who, if given the chance to rise from the dead, would not even imagine raising a finger or pulling a trigger and die for useless Eritrea. Yet, their dead soul is used, misused and abused to remind the living or the walking-dead that Eritreans are better off and, lest they forget, they will be labelled as disrespectful to those who gave their lives for the fake so-called “independence” of Eritrea but actually slavery of Eritrea to many young displaced Eritrean refugees.

    • Tekie October 29, 2017

      Ermiyas– the style and the wording of your posting tests that of Yosef GebreHiwot- who was the first Eritrean to expose and challenge twisted self image and confused identity- Now that the Justice seekers have taken a dynamic roll to voice about PFDJ dictatorship he has resigned from writing articles about the Gehedli generation.

  • AHMED SALEH !!! October 27, 2017

    In past era of occupation Eritreans mainly from lowlands were forced to flee
    from their home towns because insecurity . But at present unfortunately our
    own oppressive government caused people to flee for save heaven which
    caused refugee crisis in the region . Unless our people in general realized
    the root cause of current social and political failures and begin to face reality
    without hesitation , I can not imagine the future Eritrea holds .
    Deep inside every Eritrean heart and soul do share the pain but for some reason
    silence became our main enemy .

  • Araya Debessay October 27, 2017

    Petros, excellent article. It is a timely reminder for every justice-seeking Eritrean to think of what one can do to end the suffering of the Eritrean people at home and those who are fleeing the country with the hope for a better future to find themselves unwelcome wherever they go. To end the suffering of the Eritrean people, the only expedient, all-inclusive and democratic way, is to elect grassroots-based Global Leaders. Let’s all do our best to make the urgent call a reality so that November 2017, will mark the beginning of the end of dictatorship and the suffering of our people. .

    • Danilo October 27, 2017

      We hope so much! i.e the only way of salvation from total darkness and destruction.

  • Amba October 28, 2017

    This mess and our current humilating misery is the fruits of our “al Swara”, what a disaster:
    “IOM said 46% of those arriving are aged between 18 and 24 years old. They are the most productive members of the society. As one scholar said “Eritrea has become the fastest emptying country in the world.” “

  • Almaz October 28, 2017

    Well unless we are honest with ourselves and analyze the root cause of OUR problem, 110117 will be another day/event infamy. It is insane to flip-flopping on issues It is even more insane if we are in the business of omission of our responsibility for which our brothers/sisters/sons/daughters martyred for. Frankly, to change the dynamics in Eritrean from outside is nothing but spinning wheels. The Diaspora, need to stop becoming a crony of uninformed/ill-informed outside group and work in destabilizing Eritrea. We can only change the politics of Eritrea by working to create an environment from within inside. Let us work with HGDEF.


    • almazina October 29, 2017

      Eritrea died on may the 24 nineteen ninety one, the day that we thought was born. It wae in a coma before that. So it is heading no where. Others will argue it died in 2001, i will acomodate them.

      • Alamz October 30, 2017

        Sorry to question you, but I have my misgivings, you know what–taking a luxury of modifying one of Mandelas best quote — “if I had my time over I would go back to a glory days of 1991/1993. So would any Eritrean who dares call himself an Eritrean” !

  • AHMED SALEH !!! October 28, 2017

    People inside Eritrea say ;
    Menghistina (HGDF) told us we are free to leave our doors open but illegal
    to open our mouth ” .
    To observe anyone who open his mouth imprisoned as hard core criminal
    proved that their complaint sounds believable .
    I wish HGDF government realize their failure and change policies that serve for commongood .

  • Meretse October 28, 2017

    Dear Petros,
    Although many had written so much about the Eritrean refugees it would never be enough untill the fall of the regime. Writers, photographers, journalists,.. should always keep remind the public till the justice seekers prevail.
    For any insane person the image that is posted above your article represents Asmara, the towns, villages or simply as whole Eritrea. This is undeniable truth. Although the regime and its diehard supportes are always in state of denail, secretly it is not hard to witness how they panic when such photos are released. Directly or by proxy the regime and its supportets trie to encounter anything thay harms their image.
    Some might argue it is cooncidential, but for others who keep his tactics closely it is not voincidental, it is a pattern.
    Why am I saying all these? Bear with me … a Canadian tourist named Ian writes an article under the title Eritrea is: ” The kept Secret of Afica’
    Ian tells old new stories about the capita, its people, how peaceful it is, and the taste of coffee. He also says he is a frquent visitor, but everytime he goes there he finds the country “PRETIER’. Often the regime enourages handful of its foreign friends help him write such intentionaly crafted or written (counterclockwise) aticles.
    The good thing is he is running out of time. The writer is immensely imature or white liar. Otherwise, since when is – “Eritrea being in the birth place of coffee plantaion?”
    Stay tune … in his next article he might say : Eritrea is the water tower of Africa?

  • Meretse October 28, 2017

    For those many typo errors

  • AHMED SALEH !!! October 29, 2017

    I read the article of Asmara city , the cafeterias and the style of its residents .
    Leave politics aside but for those who grew up in that place it looks the city
    has not changed its charming side and our people rich culture .
    In fact his article makes us proud Eritreans regardless the hardship we face
    at this moment but I do not understand why you sound irritated .

  • tramtram October 29, 2017

    Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea have the same problem. The majorities are part and parcels of the problems and complain only on the government. I dont mean the government is free from critics. After all it is our won brothers and sisters who are part of the governments.

    Since this is the eritrean webpage i focus on Eritreans problem. In Eritrea fleeing to other country and to support a family and land is a deep rooted tradition. In the so called liberation of Eritrea (i call it liberating all Ethiopians including Eritreans from derg) the majority eritreans were fleeing and very few sacrificing their dear lives.

    The same thing is expected now too. Few can sacrifice and the rest is ready to dance after the victory. This wont happen in the civilized world. And those families who gave their dear close ones dare not to repeat the same mistake again. What did they get in return?

    The eritreans did not only change an amharic speakin derg system by tigrinya derg system but also the right to develop their naturally rich country and live a lavish life. Eritreans showed their hard worker at home, in their second home Ethiopia or any where else.

    Eritreans could have tolerated the democratic process in their land if they were allowed to have a robust economical system regardless who ever owned the economy like Ethiopia.

    The eritreans could have utilize their fish industries as no Easter african ever utilized it, the hotel industry (they have shown in Ethiopia), the tourism sector, the bank, the air line (which they have good experience in Ethiopian), the port, and the mine to mention a few.

    If an eritrean work in S.Sudan and becomes rich how come he wont be rich in his own country?

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