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BBC's Yalda Hakim Got It Wrong on Eritrea

Young Asmarinos enjoying a night out in the beautiful and safe city of Asmara -(Photo credit: Yalda Hakim/BBC World News)

When the BBC World News announced it was invited by Eritrea to come report on the country's health successes, many Eritreans knew from past experiences that the BBC will not stick to journalistic standards of accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, and fairness.

Indeed, it didn't take long for the BBC to prove those Eritreans right. Even before the report was completed, BBC correspondent Yalda Hakim gave a sensationalist title of "Inside the Secretive State of Eritrea" for her report.

But is Eritrea really a secretive state? Isn't it a contradiction to describe a government and country as secretive all while they are the ones who invited you to report on them?

The truth is all governments are more or less secretive. BBC selecting that title for Eritrea had more to do with marketing than accuracy. They know more people will tune in to watch their program if they use words such as "secretive" and "rare" than had they not.

From the start of her report, Yalda made it obvious to Eritreans she wasn't well informed on Eritrea's past when she credited the Italians for building Asmara. Sure, the initiative could be credited to them for a small part of the city, but the people who built it, and who are maintaining and expanding it are Eritreans. After all, Yalda wouldn't describe Addis Ababa as Chinese-built or Nairobi as British-built, so why do that with Asmara?

This pattern of making Eritrea the rule to the exception wasn't confined to its architecture, either. Yalda's report was fixated on Eritrea's economic migrants, as if this issue was limited to Eritrea. Throughout her report, Yalda emphasized  4,000 Eritreans were fleeing every month, even though this figure is an estimation of a spike the UNHCR said that took place for one month in October 2014. She presented this exaggerated estimation figure as the norm, which is misleading to say the least.

What Yalda and the BBC fail to understand is politics is playing a heavy hand in making the Eritrean narrative focus on its migration issues. No Eritrean will deny they don't have this issue, but to focus on it the way Western media has all while over a dozen African countries have far more people fleeing their borders than Eritrea does, reeks of being politically motivated.

For instance, in 2013, around 1,500 Eritreans left their country every month, according to Human Rights Watch, which cited UNHCR.[1] This figure translates to 18,000 people fleeing Eritrea every year. In comparison, CCTV reported that Ethiopia had 800,000 of its people flee to Saudi Arabia in 2013 [2] [that's 66,600 Ethiopians per month]. And if you compare Ethiopia's population (93 million) with that of Eritrea's (6.3 million), you'll learn that Ethiopia had 44x the amount of people fleeing their country to Saudi Arabia alone than Eritrea did worldwide, even though its population is just 14.7x larger.

Another example comes from Libya. Since 2011, nearly one out of three Libyans have left their country (2 million people out of 6 million).

In both these cases, their migration issues are rarely highlighted. And if they are, they are simply glossed over. Yet, when it comes to Eritrea, that becomes the main theme of every report, and is always tied to the country's politics to give the reader the impression that it's the cause of such migrations, when studies show it is not.

Had Yalda did her research she would know the leading cause of Eritrean migration to the West is UNHCR's 2004 policy position on Eritrea that designated all Eritrean asylum-seekers with prima facie status (i.e. automatic recognition of Eritreans en masse). Effectively, what this controversial and politically motivated policy did was take away the criminal aspect of their illegal migration, and force the hand of Western countries to accept these newly baptized Eritrean "refugees" into their countries (see data below). As more and more Eritreans headed for the wealthiest parts of the West [a red flag they are economic migrants and not genuine refugees], they would in turn fiance trips for their relatives and friends, which over time, created a snowball effect that led to a phenomenon known as the diaspora pull.

As the data below shows, when it comes to asylum cases in Europe, Eritreans receive a clear preferential treatment over other migrants. Not only is this unfair policy inducing more Eritreans to leave, but is actually rewarding Eritreans who leave their country for the West with free housing, money and legal residency in their respective countries.

All asylum applications:
  • France: "nearly 90 percent being rejected" [3]
  • United Kingdom: "the rejection rate is around 62 percent" [3]
  • Switzerland: 85% of asylum claims were rejected [4]
  • Sweden: "Sweden grants asylum to about a third." (67 percent rejection rate) [3]

Eritrean asylum applications:
  • France: 55% accepted, 45% rejected [5]
  • United Kingdom: 81.6% accepted, 18.4 rejected [5]
  • Switzerland, 88% accepted, 12% rejected [4]
  • Sweden: 100% accepted, 0% rejected [5]

This isn't the first time the BBC has mislead/lied to its readers about Eritrea. In its Eritrea Profile page, the BBC stated "A 2011 UN report estimated that about 70% of Eritreans cannot meet their food needs on their own”. The only problem is there was no such report, and the BBC fixed its error only after an Eritrean brought it to their attention.

Another example was in a 2014 report, the BBC described Eritrea as "tiny". They only changed this description after an Eritrean reminded the BBC that Eritrea is slightly larger than England in size. Seeing how this dismissive description would make England tinier, the BBC decided to remove it on the grounds of not being an "appropriate term to use given the size of the country".

But not everything Yalda reported on was misleading or wrong. She reported correctly that internet and TV satellite channels in Eritrea were not blocked or restricted. She also got it right when stating Eritrea has no private media, which is a concern for many Eritreans who feel that state media in the country is doing a poor job of informing its people.

In the end, Yalda's report came off as being blatantly biased and disproportionately negative. Like many reporters before her, she sensationalized her report to garner more viewers at the expense of truth. It also seems that she came to Eritrea with lots of negative preconceptions of what the country was like, and spent much of her time merely seeking to validate these claims or interpret information in a way that supports her fixed ideas in a behavior psychologists describe as confirmation bias. As a result, she focused on the narrative of migration to demonize the Eritrean government, when such issues affect most developing countries, irrespective of the political processes they follow.

The following is a video of Yalda Hakim's report. From the first 5 seconds into the video, you can see Yalda mislead her audience by presenting Ethiopian refugees walking across Yemen to get to Saudi Arabia as Eritrean refugees leaving their country.

5. 2014 EU Commission Report on Eritrean Asylum Applications

Related Reading: 
Evidence-Based Review: International Crisis Group’s Eritrean “Exodus” Report

Eritrea: A victim of Human Rights Charlatans

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BBC's Yalda Hakim Got It Wrong on Eritrea Reviewed by Admin on 1:12 PM Rating: 5


  1. My friend she didn't even got everything.a lot worst is hidden in country.You are out of title also.

  2. utry7tu8y0iu0yu8ti0oiki[

  3. hgkjhjokuo0iupo igtuytuiyui[ hw6ttiupl yudtyeuyilj

  4. That's Great WHATEVER!!!@

  5. you make no sence don't make me go to DUMB SCHOOL

  6. folks... how many times do i have to repeat my self???? BBC and all western media outlets are owned by "Reuters", a global news cartel system which is a property of the notorious blood sucking Rothschild family, Zionist Jews, who are responsible for endless world wars, the Napoleonic Wars, World War 1, World War 2, the Cold War as well as global proxy wars and millions of deaths. They controlling central banks of sovereign nations, they overthrow leaders, they install puppet regimes, they promote sanctions, they devour gold reserves of sovereign nations, profit from arms sales, they bankrupt nations, creating poverty and death and displacement of people... those are the creators of the New World Order, an evil manifesto. Therefore, these so called BBC or any western journalists are nothing but spies and they are advancing their career by covering a sugar-coated fictitious story to mindless people and legitimizing the New World Order agenda, just FYI.. the New World Order is about inslaving human beings and wiping 90% of the world population, I know.. it sounds some kind of science fiction crap.. but you don't have to take my word for it, go and research it and read about it. Don't even think for a minute they care about the well being of Eritrea & Eritreans nor the world at all. Has it occurred to you that not even once the BBC journalist on the video mentioned the illegal occupation of sovereign Eritrea's trittories or the unlawful sanctions? Those are the root causes of all problems pestering Eritrea, because those are the problems caused by those New World Order tyrants. Open your eyes folks, read and research, know your enemies.

  7. What are we getting from UK in return for allowing BBC to Eritrea?
    Lifting of the toothless Sanctions?
    It is high time we show our disapproval of PFDJ for allowing BBC to Eritrea.
    Who's next to get permission to the promised land? Walta? Hassina, aSSmarino?
    These so called journalists are nothing but paid spies working against the interest of Eritrea.
    Remember: Dinesh Mahtani "working for United Nations SEMG" who turned out to working against Eritrean government.

  8. you don't make sense

  9. yds5rwtyru9iu-opjMarch 16, 2015 at 5:53 PM

    u rnot sense

  10. Great Article.,! conveyed my views on this visit of hers perfectly. I think she had to come to terms with some truth tho. I remember when she was talking to the adetat and the disbelief on her face that African's can be so patriotic. That was a new concept too her. I just wish she was as unbiased as when she went to her native Afghanistan.

  11. i don't think you should look at it so negatively. Trust me they had a more warped view of our country anyways. So i think that the truth in the report will outshine the poor reporting she did on her little spy adventure.

    All those other sites you mentioned are scrambling to demonize the good parts of her report. I think this was a well played move by GOE.

  12. I saw free labor, I saw malnutrition, I saw the shipping containers that our government doesn't want to give explanation for. I saw our moms still hoping for a better tomorrow. I cry for my people.

  13. What made me saddest, "welcome to a free Eritrea."An Eritrea, where no one dared to speak the truth. No one could speak the truth. We can never make any significant changes until we learn to speak the truth.

  14. Hello hawi55:
    I know, I was indirectly trying to make a point that BBC is nothing but a bigger version of the other Ugly site. --your point is understood.

  15. Has she reported anything on the healthcare progress? Has she shown or reported on the infrastructure progress?, when the UN officials based in Eritrea are appreciating all the work that has been done by the government of Eritrea. Did she said anything about the unfair/unjust occupation of Eritrean territories?. She didn't utter a word on the UNJUST Sanctions which almost every Eritrean allover the world has condemned.....nothing has been said by this do i expect her or BBC to be fair with me/Eritreans? Absolutely NO. Therefore KELBI YINBAH...GMELEI TMERSH as always.

  16. Reading the well documented Professor Michael Parenti's book "Inventing Reality", i learn that you can't trust the main western media outlets, the just invent reality, they fabricate..what is important for us is going forward like what our WEDI TEKUL SAID: "zebelu entebelu, entay keygebru" comes to my mind to ignore this mass of idiot.

  17. THE TRUTH:

  18. Serving the Truth? Lol

  19. I do make sense Sir. You just have to examine who the masterminds behind BBC are and have some intellectual curiosity to dig more about their evil connections.

  20. No, you don't make sense. The illuminati crap of yours is bullshit. Stop watching youtube losers who make those to get attention and due to lack of hapiness in their life. Idiot! Btw, she reported right. Only thing she missed is the occupation, and incorrect sanctions. That being said, the man could've held an election!

  21. You need to install a "Ctrl Alt Delete" function in your skull to solve your problem once for all.

  22. How did you get your resident card where ever you may live? I am sure not by telling the truth.

  23. stop making up things for your own convinience. there isn't a sing child that looked malnutritioned on the doco. you are an abslute lier!. and whoch part Eritrea if not the coninent do you come from? collaboration to harvest build a hat house etc is embeded in our culture! stop making dumb comments - if you don't have better things to say even when you oppose please shut up.

  24. i couldn't say it better, keria you are right apart from being biased because of their hidden interests, journalists like yelda also read or have access to what eritreans say in their immigration claim in order to get their refuge application accepted. wooo, if you know what we say to get through that process... you will not blame the yeldas but US.
    may the good lord protect our county! eu theble'

  25. Dude, I do make sense for people who read books, and just for the record i don't do YouTube or other nonsense waste of time crap, you are mistaking me for someone else. The "idiot" may be you, no offense there. Read and research rather, read credible books, yes i said read books like "The 13th Tribe" by Robert Liparulo and also David Rockefeller's book "Memoirs" just to name few and discuss those books with scholars and intellectuals. My previous comment may be broad and very general but it was based on facts. Thank you Sir !!!!!



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