Migration: Is it Really an Eritrean Trademark?
|Eritrean Defense Force aka Warsay Yikaelo|
Migration: Is it Really an Eritrean Trademark?
I am not an immigration expert by all means. But, I was inclined to write about Eritrea’s immigration issues in contrast to historical data from around the world. The bottom line of my article is for readers to know the facts and to have an open discussion on how to avert catastrophic human loss like the one that occurred at Lampadusa, Italy few months ago.
Migration is not a new phenomenon; it had been around for the past thousands of years and it is happening now around the globe. Migration can be elicited by any of the following: economic, political and/or religion. For e.g., between 1841 and 1850, immigration to the US was very high, totaling 1,713,000 immigrants, including at least 781,000 Irish, 435,000 Germans, 267,000 British and 77,000 French immigrants. The Irish, with the Potato Famine (1845–1849) driving them, emigrated directly from their homeland to escape poverty and death. The failed revolutions of 1848 brought many intellectuals and activists to exile in the U.S. Bad times and poor conditions in Europe drove people out, while land, relatives, freedom, opportunity, and jobs in the US lured them in. Between 1850 and 1930, about 5 million Germans immigrated to the United States with a peak in the years between 1881 and 1885, when a million Germans left Germany and settled mostly in the Midwest. Between 1820 and 1930, 3.5 million British and 4.5 million Irish entered America. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, about 1.3 million Swedes left Sweden for the United States. The main "pull" was the availability of low cost, high quality farm land in the upper Midwest (the area from Illinois to Montana), and high paying jobs in mechanical industries and factories in Chicago, Minneapolis, Worcester and many smaller cities. Meron Estifanos and Co. can help us calculate the number of Swedish migrants per month.Today about 700,000 Swiss citizens currently live abroad.
Due to its strategic position on the Red Sea, Eritrea had been attractive for invaders from different countries. South Arabians (Yemen), the Ottoman Turks, the Portuguese, the Egyptians, the British and the Italians have invaded parts of Eritrea in the past. The Egyptians and Sudan have also invaded Eritrea from the west. And last but not least, when Eritrea was awarded to Ethiopia, it had many sophisticated factories. Ethiopia nationalized Eritrea’s 42 largest factories and systematically dismantled the Eritrean industrial sector during the protracted civil war. The systematic war enforced on Eritrea in 1998 severely affected Eritrea’s economy. The GDP basically dropped down to zero. So, forget Eritrea, a very poor country which had to go through hell for the past 100s of years, the rich countries which I have mentioned above had to go through difficulties and migration at some point in their history. The fact of the matter is that Eritrea’s government is trying its very best to improve the livelihood of every Eritrean citizen. Amazingly, Eritrea’s economy is projected to grow by 8.0% in 2014. So why do many Eritrean youth opt to migrate to another country? And why is Eritrean migration depicted differently as compared to other countries around the globe?
A number of reasons can be attributed for migration of the youth from Eritrea. Here are the lists in my opinion:
1. Ambition! We should not forget the adage that if the pasture is greener on the other side of town, it is going to attract visitors. This had been happening in the past and it is happening today. A lot of Mexicans migrate to the US every hour every day. Due to the protracted war in the past, many Eritreans were subjected to mass migration to different parts of the world. Due to the hard working nature of Eritrean people, the living standard of most Eritreans in the diaspora is relatively good. Another very fascinating nature of Eritreans around the globe is the fact that they have very strong bond with their immediate family in Eritrea. So, they tend to shower their families in Eritrea with nonstop gifts. If you ever tell your friends that you are going to Eritrea you know exactly what is going to happen; take this for my brother and this for my aunt and it is never ending. Obviously, these kinds of experience will easily make the youth in Eritrea envious. The youth will then become an easy target for the preys whose ulterior motive is to weaken the Eritrean government by all means. The president of a great nation had to say it in the open during a speech that he gave to the Clinton Global Initiative in September 25, 2012; “We’re partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers”. What is freedom? Is it to allow the youth free access to psychedelic drugs such as ‘chat’, or to have shisha houses rampantly throughout major cities, or to have disregard for the female youth engaged in prostitution (በ አዲስ አበባ ምስጢራዊ የወሲብ ገበያ ደርቷል this is in addition to the 130,000 prostitutes in Addis alone) or to have close to a million homeless people in one city alone. Or is it to allow 1% of the population pursues an exuberant life while the remaining is having a hard time to make the ends meet. I am proud to say that this is not the case in Eritrea. The economic policy of Eritrea is based on fairly equal distribution of wealth to all. The government of Eritrea is not for aggrandizing individual riches by all means. The president of Eritrea clearly stated in one of his speeches that what they fought for is not to beautify one city (Asmara) alone while the majority of the population is deprived of basic needs (emphasis mine). Obviously, the over ambitious merchant will invest in some other country and eventually, when the dust settles, the majority of the investors will come back home to invest. The government has already started to attract investors and a case in point is the housing project in Asmara being built in collaboration with an Italian company. Investment 2, 3, 4 and etc will follow tract and the country will hopefully be back to business; unless of course, the UN comes up with another bogus accusation to demonize Eritrea.
2. Globalization! It comprises the free movement of goods, services, capital, people and knowledge around the world. Adrian Blomfield in his article claimed that, Africa has another dispiriting statistic: a brain drain of health workers so acute that more Ethiopian-trained doctors practice in Chicago than in Ethiopia. This phenomenon makes Eritrean youth a good candidate to get attracted to the global market. Almost all the youth that migrate out of Eritrea owns a high school diploma and almost all have basic skills of computer. Asmara is inundated with Computer schools. So, once the youth is exposed to the global market, they can easily find a job. This cycle can only be balanced by allowing affordable employment opportunities in Eritrea. The government and Eritrean investors should work in tandem to improve this situation. Asmara and its environs including Dekemehare were once the hub of many sophisticated factories until they were dismantled systematically by Ethiopia. I am very hopeful that many new factories are going to sprout out in Eritrea in the near future. The government has to invest heavily on education so that when the right time comes to attract manufacturing jobs to Eritrea the manpower will be ready. At some point, the BMW Company was attracted to open a car assembly factory in Dekemehare but it was denied by King Haile-Selassie. If we have the infrastructure and the manpower ready, it will definitely attract investors.
3. Military and Social Services (Warsay Yikaelo)! The government of Eritrea has vowed to build the country from scratch. Notwithstanding the sanctions, the psychological war and the precarious situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the government of Eritrea have mobilized the youth to build the country. Immense sacrifice was paid to achieve Eritrea’s freedom so it is imperative to maintain the hard won independence forever. At the same time, it is hard to talk about freedom without economic independence. Claiming a country independent while the country is dependent on food aid is absurd. For example in the year 2012 Ethiopia received $580 million in aid from the USA; another 193 million Euro from Europe and the World Bank approved US$1.15 million interest free credit to Ethiopia in recent years. The list can go on. The million dollar question is, “Does Ethiopia used the money to better the livelihood of its citizens”? The figure does not show that. On the contrary, Eritrea with very minimal loan and with very minimal aid has registered major goals in improving infant mortality, increasing the literacy rate, in achieving the millennium goal, almost eradicating malaria, building roads and dams in the countryside, electrifying the countryside and etc..(See this website for details). The bulk of the development was performed by Warsay Yikaelo. I would first like to thank the youth for safeguarding the motherland and for paying the ultimate sacrifice to better the livelihood of the needy. I have a feeling that the achievements Eritrea have registered have made certain parties very uncomfortable. A country getting in billions in aid is having close to 1 million homeless people and close to 130,000 prostitutes in Addis Abeba alone and here is Eritrea who has become a bad example for doing miracles. I have no doubt in my mind that certain groups are working night and day to thwart Eritrea’s development program. We have to bear in mind that participating with the social services in Eritrea for prolonged period of time can be tedious. The youth should know that the service is temporary. For example, Sweden had mandatory military service until July of 2010. The military service should have included foreign born Eritreans to boost the morale of the native Eritreans. At the same time, the social service should not be mandatory after certain period. I strongly advise the government to revise the policy on the terms of the social service.
4. Religion! I know that the topic is a touchy subject but, according to Wikipedia, followers of the Christian faith in Eritrea amount to 50% to 60%. Among the Christians, 57.7% are Orthodox Christians, 4.6% Catholics and 0.7% Protestants. The revivalism of Born Again Christians is on the rise. The rationale behind can be attributed to the fact that Orthodox Church service can be boring and hard to follow. Personally, I lose touch 10 minutes into the service. Obviously, the Pentecost Church gives the sermon relative to the world today. The very fact can entice many young followers of other religion easily. The Pentecostal Church is not acknowledged by the government of Eritrea. This can easily force some of the followers to flee the country. I strongly advise the government of Eritrea to allow freedom of religion. The impetus not to allow the new sects from pursuing their faith can come from the Orthodox Church. However, the government should mediate and allow freedom of religion in Eritrea. The problem had been around for hundreds of years. I would encourage those who can read Amharic to read ‘Dekika Estifanos’ by Dr. Getachew Haile. In brief, some 50 years before Martin Luther started protesting against the Catholic Church, a group of Orthodox Christian faith followers in Northern Ethiopia initiated to question the doctrine of Christian faith according to the Bible. They were persecuted and had to go through a lot of hardship. In our world today, new faith is not welcome by the old Church. I strongly advise the Government of Eritrea to revise the policy on religion.
In conclusion, I have given my opinion in regard to the cause of migration of the youth out of Eritrea. I would like readers to openly discuss the matter and reach a consensus on how to attenuate the unnecessary death of our fellow brothers and sisters.
Migration: Is it Really an Eritrean Trademark? Reviewed by Admin on 9:41 AM Rating: