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The quandary of human-trafficking issue in Eritrea

The political map of Eritrea, (bordered by Sudan in west, by Ethiopia in south and by Djibouti in south east. Eritrea shares also maritime borders with Saudi Arabia and Yemen).

The quandary of human-trafficking issue in Eritrea

Tsegai Medin (Spain), 14th of April, 2015

Eritrea`s relentless unstable political situation has reached a new plateau. The corrupt political agenda in our region is unquestionably deceiving our people and sadly it is not organic; it is manufactured and politically imported by cold hearted superpowers and manipulative societies lately obediently implement by treacherous allies in the region. It is true the insignificant and endless political vying in our region resulted, in a disastrous economic and cultural crisis for the people of the region. The economic and political instability, has forced the displacement of people; sometimes with heartbreaking results. This is especially true when embarking on dangerous and risky routes to Europe, the Levant and nearby African countries. This perpetuated crisis of human trafficking is becoming one of the worst tragedies for humanity; presently the solution is as difficult as the problem itself. The main motive for human trafficking is a complex phenomenon and normally varies from country to country. However, the following reasons are the main causes which affect human displacement: political instability, poverty, militarism, civil unrest, internal armed conflict and natural disasters. Such displacement exposes populations to increased exploitation and abuse through trafficking.

Currently, the majority of Eritrean youth have no dreams apart from crossing the border risking their lives in deserts and the Mediterranean Sea mostly aiming to reach Europe. According to a UNHCR report in 2014, “28,557 Eritreans arrived in Italy between January and August 2014, compared to nearly 10,000 in 2013 and approximately 2,500 in 2012. An estimated 3,000 people have died in 2014 trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, over 2,500 since the beginning of June. An estimated 650-850 people are believed to have perished during sea crossings in the first half of September 2014”.

The statistical data reflects the extreme efforts of a people desperate for change and paying the ultimate price. What are the motives that are making our people leave their home land? If you ask any young Eritrean, what made him leave his country; the answer is, “endless military conscription”. Recently, British journalists Paul Kenyon and Yalda Hakim have been unfairly reporting Eritrea`s socio-political cases from Sudan and Eritrea respectively. For example, Paul Kenyon was interviewing young Eritrean children at the Shagarab refugee camp on the border of Eritrea and Sudan. According to the journalist, some of these young Eritrean migrants are as young as seven years old and the older ones are about twenty years old. Referring to these young boys, he reported, “a compulsory open-ended military service lasting from 10 to 30 years, including year after a year of forced labour on farms or in factories”. In my opinion these journalists were being biased, they had formed an opinion and their report was very subjective. The media seems intent on creating totally negative impressions of my country.  Often journalists use fabrication to support their own political and ideological perspectives.

It is true that many risk their lives to reach Europe and other parts of the world just for economic reasons that is, to help their families. However, when they arrive at their dream countries some migrants start to politicize their link with their country in a very negative manner. It is an infectious disease and totally disrespectful considering the history of our Nation and dignity of our culture.

Looking at the economic situation, Eritrea has shown an incredible record of economic achievements and millennium goals; still the main reason for the majority of young Eritreans to migrate from their country is economic reasons. There are still economical instabilities (as there are throughout the world). The major influential points are:

(i)  regional insecurity, especially related to the unresolved issues between Eritrea and Ethiopia and

(ii) The enforcement of UNSC sanctions.

In spite of these problems, according, to an IMF annual report, Eritrea`s GDP grew by 8.2% in 2011, up from 2.2% in 2010, but falling mineral prices are expected to result in more moderate growth of 6.3% in 2012. Recently, (2015), Magidu Nyende and Luka Okumu reported in the “African economic outlook”, Eritrea`s current economic evolution. According to the article, Eritrea`s economic growth is estimated to have fallen sharply to 1.1% in 2013 from 7% the previous year and is projected to progress slightly to 1.9% in 2014, reflecting shrinkage of economic activities in many sectors, except in mining. The report acknowledges the improvements in the education and health sectors due to increased investments in those sectors, and underlined the significant challenges with respect to creating and enabling the business sector.  The report concluded by highlighting the potential of the country for an increased internationalization of production and trade for mineral and agro-food exports in the future.

However, regardless of the statistics, as in any other developing countries, in our country (Eritrea) economic instability is the principal reason that forces people to leave the country and become victims of the cold-blooded human-traffickers. To my surprise, there are still hostile people who assume the main motive of this problem is only an internal problem; this is false and politically motivated. It is indisputable, and I cannot deny the internal short comings that exist and we have to face. Nonetheless, most of these problems are related to the cyclical external pressure and economic sanctions. Due to these inequitable sanctions, it is not surprising to see illogical and emotionally motivated youths who are ready to take any action. But, let’s be honest with ourselves and bring this question down to a family level and ask; what really made my brother/sister leave the homeland, unlike the above mentioned points? Is it because they face threats of persecution and arrest in the country? If yes, how much of the total youth displaced from this country is affected by the aforementioned threats? Is there endless military conscription in the country? If “yes”, this is understandably not a choice for us. It is a matter of survival as a nation. Though personally, I would rather oppose endless military conscription if we could obtain a stable political environment. For any case, recently, the Eritrean government has promised to limit the duration of the National Service to 18 months.

It has been decades since the international community, started interfering in Eritrea`s domestic political issues. Like in any other countries (Somalia, South Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan etc), Eritrea`s sovereignty is unequivocally violated. I am perplexed, to see, for-example, the continued military presence of the neighbouring country (Ethiopia) in our sovereign land, after signing the final and binding Algiers Peace Treaty in 18 June, 2000. Such an observable fact creates a no-peace-no-war political atmosphere in the country. Over the years, several Eritrean opposition groups and individuals continue to consider such a violation of law as a minor problem. Instead the dispute is negatively addressed by suggestions that this is: “a pretext raised by the Eritrean government to deviate the peace negotiation with the neighbouring Ethiopia”.

Furthermore, it is contemptible and immoral to see a divided Diasporas society with such unsubstantiated and corrupt ideas. Likewise, the so called opposition groups are fully engaging in contaminating, through language, the populace with old fashioned ideologies of regionalism and religious discrimination. It is an easy option for these comfortably living groups to point fingers at their fellow Eritreans who are tirelessly engaging in building their nation with sweat and blood. The perpetuate human-trafficking of our people cannot be stopped by 'pointing fingers' at each other discussing unnecessary issues. I am of the opinion that, the most inexcusable scenario of these groups is the incessant influence on the youth residing in the country. They brainwash them and as a result drive the young out of the country and expose them to a worst tragedy.    
I find it tiresome to read inaccurate, biased reports which are, in my opinion, baseless and propagated beyond reality. It can be, seen as, the media exposure exporting their ideologies and cultural values onto a naive readership. The majority of Eritreans know the falseness and corruptness behind these stories. However, if we continue to remain silent and underestimate the ‘power of the press’ our country will continue to face tragedy. For example, it is a pity to see a divided Diasporas society with irrelevant and ambitious plans.  Nowadays, it is becoming fashionable to see such malevolent plans from the so called opposition groups residing outside of my country.  These, are groups having no clear objectives with an immature agenda and do not represent the Eritrean people. In addition, the majority of these groups are financed by the Ethiopian government and or other superpowers, which are historically known for their obscene agendas against our people (particularly the youth) and government of Eritrea.  

Finally, we Eritreans fought for centuries against our common enemies turning into a reality, with our solidarity and determination, the creation of a proud nation.  Eritrea`s crystal-clear resource is “its people”, and historically it is proven that we challenged superpowers with no other resources, but our people. We created our nation with the priceless lives of our loved ones. Therefore, it is our ultimate responsibility to keep our promises and participate in the development and in the stability of the country and fight against all odds. The current problems we are facing are part of the process of the long years of struggle. It will be an historic failure for our generation if we give-up trying to protect our nation. We should all unite and solve our problems and feed hungry minds.  I urge all of us to look meticulously deeply into the cause of our people`s problem and come-up with constructive ideas for a better future and development. Let`s all stand to heal our real wounds, and protect the country we love!


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The quandary of human-trafficking issue in Eritrea Reviewed by Admin on 8:07 PM Rating: 5


  1. There are a lot of noises about the border issues recently in all Eritrean websites. If your going to do something about it go ahead. Stop crying like a baby all the time.' The whole world knows there is a border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, your are not going to convince anyone or no one is going to come to your rescue just by writing a boring long pages about the issues. What is the Eritrea government's plan? why they are not so quick to send their military as they did to invade Badme? Where is that arrogance that was displayed the 'sun will not come out again if we leave Badme. You guys left Badme in a hurry and it has been thirteen years since you left the area; surprise, force of nature still doing its job regardless of the attempt made by your leader to change it.

  2. Diaspora Eritreans are an asset to Eritrea. Therefore I have no issue people migrating, so long as they reach their intended target with minimal harm.

  3. Coconat head, Eritrea did not invade Badme, you are temporarily occupied it.

  4. But there's no economic embargo on Eritrea. Why does everyone claim there's an economic embargo? The embargo is very clear. It limits the financial resources of Issayas and his goons and also places travel bans on them. The embargo also prevents Eritrea from importing weapons or material that is related to armaments. That is the extent of the embargo. How is this an economic embargo? Unless ofcourse you're saying Eritrea herself is Issayas' personal bank account. Then you have a point and grounds to complain. Also, Ethiopia will never invade Eritrea. It has been 15 years almost to the month since Ethiopia struck back. Ethiopia does not have to fire a single bullet, Issayas and his goons are doing the job for Ethiopia. All Ethiopia has to do is sit back and watch as Eritrea bleeds from the inside out and crumbles.

  5. ኣሌክ -Alec youApril 15, 2015 at 7:33 AM

    1st of all, how can someone invade his own land and second woyane-.have impunity to bully their neighbors under the skirt of the United States, and if we fire the 1st bullet ur they will blame us for hurting their loyal puppet woyane of tigray. so we play it smarter....fragment it within inside out. and ur woyane'ane is heading to its own demise by butchering/exterminating the people of Ogaden, Gambela, Oromo so on.... so holding 'Badme' will change nothing, it only delay the Inevitable. Like Sun Tzu said The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. : )

  6. Eze bede nateka amentay yebshaka yekewene?

    Fellow Eritreans, the following is a good statement though has been repeatdly said.

    'We should all unite and solve our problems and feed hungry minds. I
    urge all of us to look meticulously deeply into the cause of our
    people`s problem and come-up with constructive ideas for a better future
    and development. Let`s all stand to heal our real wounds, and protect
    the country we love!'

  7. Yes, but y see in some places youth fighting each other which is undisciplined. Once one is out should aim for his/her betterment as well as to the well being of his family, community in particulare and at large to his country.

  8. Thank you for a balanced and insightful reflection on Eritrea today. Your perspective as one who so obviously hopes for and is willing to work toward a positive future for the country we love, while at the same time being willing to recognize a change process that needs to happen, is refreshing. I so agree that we must share "constructive ideas for a better future." This is a dialogue that I hope will be inclusive of diverse ideas while building on the premise that the future of Eritrea ultimately belongs to the Eritrean people. It is theirs to claim and must never be co-opted by outside interests. The 'Other Eritreans' (like myself) outside the country who care deeply for the Eritrean people stand with you and for you. Samuel Mahaffy (Wade Senafe).

  9. Another military conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia would be a great tragedy and misfortune for the people of both countries. It is right that we continuously bring forward in the international arena, the truth that the sovereign borders of Eritrea, recognized by the global community, must be respected. That cause is right and we must never cease in speaking up for what is right.

  10. 'It is an easy option for these comfortably living groups to point
    fingers at their fellow Eritreans who are tirelessly engaging in
    building their nation with sweat and blood.'

    The irony is that Tsegai Medin writes this article from the comfort of his home in the west (Spain). If he believes the government is correct in their work, why not live there in Eritrea and serve for only 18 months.
    As for the decision to limit the national service again to 18 months. What has changed in the border dispute with Ethiopia that would warrant such a decision? Badme is still occupied, there is still no normalization with the Ethiopian government, there is still no different government in Addis etc. So far only Berhane Gebrehiwot (Charge d' affairs Eritrean embassy in DC) and a visiting parliamentary delegation from the UK gave hints suggesting the national service might be limited. If this is indeed true, why via some diplomat in DC? Wouldn't news this big be reported by the Ministry of Defense and/or Information? If true, this would indeed be good news to the youth, economy and state of the nation. But we've seen before that certain government officials say one thing and then it's not followed up, or not clear if this is official government policy. More clarity on this issue would be helpful.

  11. ኣሌክ - Alec youApril 15, 2015 at 2:19 PM

    Natka da'a Gber woyane's boy.

  12. Crying like a baby...huh?...obviously you have notno idea what took place in that war...only if you knew!...were you in china?..or in Addis?...or somewhere in the west...? anyhow your immature comments know no is this type of attitudes from your cousins in 4 kilo..that is causing ungst in the region...get lost tou moron. ...try to get some sleep may be you will start thing twisted mangruel.

  13. Thank you so much for the video.

  14. Hi Samuel. I would normally concur with you but we now going on 14 years with Ethiopia holding on strong to Badme with no change of disposition in sight while at the same time mass exodus from Eritrea continues. I agree with Erty on this one. Isaias is obviously not the right person to negotiate the matter, he already failed miserably on the matter in 1998, so we must now unfortunately press forward with action instead of words. It is time for the vocal Eritrean diaspora to return home for action

  15. Berhanu. I was there. But I agree with Erty on this one. We need to either shut up or take action to reclaim Badme. No disrespect intended.

  16. Mikhael. While the UN border demarcation board decided that Badme belongs to Eritrea they also found that Eritrea was the aggressor in the conflict. But then again, how can you invade what is yours in the first place.

  17. Why do you care about Ethiopia? You can use a different standard to measure your penile growth.

  18. But and this is a big but....diaspora Eritreans should be respectful and not too loudly advocate for the PFDJ government. To do so is so hypocritical.

  19. Hi Samuel. Change at this stage must come from within and hopefully without violence. We can no longer be too passive. Sorry brother as too much time has passed and the young awaiting for change from 2001 are now middle aged while the middle aged from before are now gray and the elderly or soon to be.

  20. ኣሌክ - Alec youApril 16, 2015 at 11:15 AM

    Its not about caring or not. am responding to wedi-adka Dogali not u. Am saying to him/her---Do not pretend to care for our wellbeing; you've come to taunt us.....instead of trying to shed a crocodile tears for us, u should cry for ur mama Ethiopia that is in deep shit.

    So Enda Arbi, instead of pointing fingers at me try to respond to ur countrymen dogali. Comprende?

  21. There you go again when you say 'u should cry for you mama Ethiopia that is in deep shit'. I am not Ethiopian and do not care about Ethiopia. Do you get it? In your posts you are always making comparisons with Ethiopia. Any Eritrean that does not agree with you is automatically labelled as an Ethiopian, woyane or agame. Other than the Border issue getting resolved I do not give a F about Ethiopia or what is happening there.

  22. Ethiopia is not respecting the UN border decision so the Eritrean government should be attacking Ethiopia to take back Badme but they know that they will cause the downfall of the Isaias government.

  23. Eritreans inside of the country are not crying like a baby it is only Eritreans in the diaspora that are crying like babies.

  24. Why use the USA as an excuse not to attack Ethiopia in Badme? Back during the 1998-2000 war, at least in the beginning, many were saying that the USA was backing Eritrea instead of Ethiopia. I even remember on American friend of Girma Asmerom that was deported in early 1999 for being accused of being a CIA spy for Eritrea. The USA would never provide troop presence there and would likely not get directly involved in any such war. We should attack but our government is afraid to do so. We have become worse than woyane...we have now become cowards.

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