Eritrea’s refugee crisis threatens to undermine the stability of the secretive country.
By Goitom Gebreluel and Kjetil TronvollOctober 15, 2013 (Aljazeera) – Just as the Horn of Africa is witnessing the slow restoration of one collapsed state - after more than two decades of anarchic conditions in Somalia - it may be facing the collapse of another.
The small country of Eritrea, only 20 years after gaining independence from Ethiopia, has emerged as one of the largest sources of refugees in Africa – as well as one of the most militarised societies in the world. It is increasingly displaying signs of withering state structures and an unsustainable humanitarian situation.
Although Eritrea is sometimes referred to as the North Korea of Africa, a more appropriate point of comparison may be Somalia and its descent into civil war. The already fragile security conditions in Eritrea’s neighbouring states means that its collapse could have major implications for regional stability. Read more…
April 9, 2013, Addis Ababa Sudan Tribune) — A female Eritrean Air Force pilot has defected to Saudia Arabia where she is seeking political asylum in Saudi Arabia, in in a latest sign of embarrassment to the dictatorial regime in Asmara.
Captain Rahwa Gebrekristos deserted to Saudi Arabia after being sent to the kingdom last week on assignment to retrieve a presidential jet that had been waiting for return following the defection of another two air force pilots last year.
However, like her two former colleagues, Yonas Woldeab and his deputy Mekonnen Debesay, who secretly flew president Isaias Afewerki’s plane to Saudi Arabia last October before defecting, Gebrekristos is also claiming asylum. Read more…
“The kidnappers would make me lie on my back and then they would get me to ring my family to ask them to pay the ransom they wanted,” she says, lifting up the back of her shirt to expose a rash of deep scars.
“As soon as one of my parents answered the phone, the men would melt flaming plastic over my back and inner thighs and I would scream and scream in pain.
‘Please help me’
I will never forgot the desperate words, broadcast on the BBC, of an Eritrean refugee who was being held hostage in Egypt’s north Sinai.
“It’s bad, bad. Have no enough food, enough water,” a tearful and desperate man called Philemon Semere told me on the phone last November. Read more…
January 30, 2013, BEIRUT (Swedish Expressen – Google translation) – Eritrean dictator Isaias Afewerki’s Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed has fled the country and is living today in a secret location. Read more…
Young Eritreans peacefully stormed Eritrean Embassy in Rome, Italy, yesterday, Jan 29, 2013, in support of the Eritrean mutiny a week ago. In Washington DC, some were arrested trying to do the same thing.
Watch more pictures, below, of Washington, DC Eritrean protesters Read more…
Was the latest challenge to President Isaias Afawerki’s rule just a taste of things to come?
January 23, 2013 (Aljazeera) — A mutiny in Eritrea went almost completely unnoticed when renegade troops staged one of the strongest challenges yet to the country’s authoritarian rule.
On Monday, a group of soldiers stormed the Ministry of Information, briefly taking over the state-run television service in an apparent rebellion, which failed. They called for a change in the constitution and the release of political prisoners. Rights groups say up to 10,000 are being held. Read more…
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
January 21, 2013
GARSEN, Kenya — Eritrea, a sliver of a nation in the Horn of Africa that is one of the most secretive and repressive countries in the world, was cast into confusion on Monday after mutinous soldiers stormed the Ministry of Information and took over the state-run television service, apparently in a coup attempt. Read more…
Dissident soldiers take over information ministry and force state media to call for the release of political prisoners.
January 21, 2013 (AlJazeera) — A group of dissident Eritrean soldiers have laid siege to the information ministry and forced the state media to announce a call for the release of political prisoners, according to a senior Eritrean intelligence official.
The renegade soldiers forced the director of state television to make an announcement, the intelligence official said.
“The soldiers have forced him to speak on state TV, to say the Eritrean government should release all political prisoners,” the source said on condition of anonymity. Read more…
December 20, 2012 (The Atlantic) — Eritrean information minister Ali Abdu, who is rumored to have defected this past week, helped build one of the world’s strictest systems of media control.
Eritrea sits on some of the most important real estate in Africa, occupying a thin sliver of coastline at the mouth of the Red Sea. The country straddles one side of a globally significant shipping lane, and the actions of whoever’s ruling in Asmara affects the stability of every neighboring country, from already troublesome places like Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, which lie just across the sea. Yet Eritrea itself is one of the most opaque places on earth. Under the 21-year rule of Isaias Afewerki, the country has aided al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Somalia, warred against Ethiopia, and precipitated a refugee crisis that has percolated throughout the Horn of Africa and the greater Middle East, cloaked in a fog that even other governments have a difficult time penetrating. Read more…
The World Bank supports Eritrea’s efforts to create broad-based economic growth, improve education and implement critical economic and governance reforms
December 16, 2012
Eritrea was one of the fastest growing African economies in 2011, with growth in gross domestic product (GDP) projected at 14%, up from an estimated 2.2% in 2010, according to the World Bank’s June 2012 Global Economic Prospects. The growth was mainly stimulated by favorable harvest and the mining sector (mainly gold), which has attracted substantial foreign direct investment.
However, growth in absolute terms is small. Eritrea is one of the least developed countries in the world, with an average annual per capita income of US$403 in 2010 for a population of about 5.3 million, of whom an estimated two-thirds live in rural areas. Eritrea is ranked 177th out of 187 countries in the 2011 United Nations Human Development Index, and the Eritrean Diaspora is large and increasing. Read more…
December 16, 2012, Israel (Haaretz) – Israel and Iran are both holding military bases in Eritrea on the shore of the Red Sea, the global intelligence company Stratfor reported on Tuesday.
This is not the first indication of a covert Israeli military presence in the small African country, but Stratfor’s report is the most detailed to surface to date.
According to Stratfor, Israel has a listening station on the secluded Mt. Amba Sawara, as well as docks in the Dahlak Archipelago.
Previous reports revealing the existence of these docks claimed they are being used by Israel Navy submarines and ships taking part in Israel’s covert war against the Iranian networks smuggling weapons to the Hamas and Hezbollah. Read more…
Dec 3, 2012, KAMPALA, Uganda (Reuters) — At least 14 members of the Eritrea football squad have disappeared in Uganda while playing in a regional tournament and may eventually claim asylum, Ugandan officials said on Monday.
Eritrea is one of the world’s most secretive states ruled by a reclusive president. This year United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay accused the Asmara government of meting out summary executions, torture and detaining thousands of political prisoners.
In July last year 13 members of an Eritrean football club sought asylum in Tanzania while 12 members of the national squad disappeared in Kenya in 2009 after competing in a regional tournament. Read more…