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Despite executions, drowning, some Ethiopians still dream of Europe

Photo: Ethiopian youths in Addis Ababa who plan on going to Europe and claiming asylum as "Eritrean refugees".

By AFP

Addis Ababa (AFP) - On the walls of homes in the poor Cherkos neighbourhood of Ethiopia's capital, the portraits of "martyrs" killed in their attempt to enter Europe offer a grim warning.

The murders of several Ethiopian Christians last month in Libya horrified Ethiopians and sparked global condemnation, including from Pope Francis who expressed his "great distress and sadness".

At least five of the victims out of the group of 28 migrants on the gruesome video were recognised as coming from this poor neighbourhood in the heart of the Ethiopian capital and its tightly packed clusters of simple brick, tin roof buildings.

"We were about to leave, now we will wait a bit, but not too long," said one young man aged around 20, sitting with friends, all shocked by having watched the horrific executions on their mobile telephones.

"In a few months this will all be forgotten. But our situation has not changed."

Sitting on the side of the street and recounting their frustrations, the three young men instead point to the "20 or so" migrants who they say they know have made it to Europe -- to Malta, Sweden, Britain and Germany.

"They've transformed their lives and the lives of their families," one of them said.

Ethiopia's economy is one of the best performers in Africa, and foreign investment is pouring in. But without any qualifications, the young men say they have little hope of a good job -- beyond labouring for around 50 biirs (just under $3) a day.

The way out is well-known: a bus ride to neighbouring Sudan, then the crossing of the Sahara desert to reach the Libyan capital Tripoli, which is 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) from Addis Ababa. After that it's a case of finding a boat to Italy.

In all, the journey coast between $2,500 and $5,000, a fortune but one that most think they can pay back as soon as they strike gold in Europe.

The lucky ones reach Europe in a few weeks, with Ethiopians declaring themselves Eritreans in order to seek asylum. Some, however, end up stuck in Libya, short of cash. Others simply disappear.

- 'Question of luck' -

Baheru Lemme, who runs a church-based youth association, is trying to convince young Ethiopians to stay, but he admits that is a huge challenge.

"Too many families encourage their children to leave so they can send back some money, rather then invest instead in their education," he said.

"I tell them about the dangers of the journey. I tell them they can change their lives by staying here and working hard, but they are pessimistic."

Baheru said that even after the executions carried out by Islamic State militants, two more locals have left for Libya in recent days.

"I tried to reason with them, but they said that if they die then they'll be martyrs," he said, adding he had given them a Bible for their journey.

Ethiopia's government is also trying to put off would-be migrants, with measures including tougher laws against human traffickers.

Not far from where Baheru runs his church group, a funeral was being held for Biruk Kassa, one of the victims who appeared on the video. Among the mourners, family friend Ferek admitted he still dreamt of Europe despite the obvious risks.

"If I had the money to pay the smugglers, I'd go right away," he said, complaining that at 24 and even as a student of marketing, he believed he had few prospects. In Britain, however, he believed he could earn the equivalent of a monthly salary in a day.

As for the dangers of the journey, he shrugs his shoulders: "Some make it, others don't. It's a question of luck."
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Despite executions, drowning, some Ethiopians still dream of Europe Reviewed by Admin on 6:29 AM Rating: 5

7 comments:

  1. Eritrean refugees are dying on the road to freedom
    Sister Aziza, an Eritrean nun living in Israel, mourns the tragic loss of life of Eritrean refugees in the recent Lampedusa shipwreck, and calls for international action against the torture camps in the Sinai.
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.552945

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  2. Eritrean refugees are dying on the road to freedom

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  3. The similarity is striking to say the least. BBC's recent interview with Yemane Gebreab back in Asmara in his office, the video-camera man or woman captured in passing a book lying on the desk of Yemane where the tittle oddly enough is "Why Nations Fail." On the other side of the fence as well, one can not help but notice the same book lying in the office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia as he was giving an interview to a local journalist. One also wonders if Yemane to the very least takes to heart what is really inscribed in the rather eye-catching book. I personally say hardly! Simply because, Eritrea may not be a flat out failed state yet but all the indications are palpable where one is compelled to believe that Eritrea is on the road to the unknown where the people are hinged between the whims of an erratic leader and hopeless Opposition.


    The funny business of the regime supporters is limited to find anything that puts the Weyanes on a negative spot in a bid to eclipse the colossal predicament Eritrea finds itself in where the unprecedented lose of lives in the high seas is inter alia a case in point. Looking for a patched up and transient gratification as Isaias walks hand in hand with a foreign leader and posting on the main page when young Ethiopians search for a better life elsewhere can not and will not weather-away Eritrea's dire problems rather the only solution is by remaining true to oneself and recognize the existence of the pink Elephant in the living room. If you're wondering what the pink Elephant is, you shouldn't go far in search for it for it is right under everyone's nose---young Eritreans are hemorrhaging the nation in search of a better life; there is no rule of law to speak of; there is no freedom of worship, assembly and speech; the economy is in a slippery slope.........the list is endless as we prepare to honour and celebrate the birth of independent Eritrea.

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  4. The failure of the leadership in Eritrea is stark to see when one compares Eritrea of the year 2000, just after the war, and Eritrea of today. Today our people is demoralized, scattered as never before, our Economy, specially the private sector, has been destroyed. A competent government would have used various innovative means to calm the people and foment the economy. What have PFDJ been doing ? PFDJ has been sitting and blaming every possible external actor for the predicament the country is in ! And the PFDJ solution ? Waiting for the woyanes to fall !

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  5. Any responsible, patriotic individual would have long realized the desperate state the country is in, and would have left power to those who can bring hope to the people. Look at Iran and Cuba to realize how a desperate situation can be transformed into a promising situation with a change of leadership and the introduction of new ideas !!! Compare Iran and Cuba during Rohani and Raul, versus Ahmedinejat and Fidel !

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  6. ethiopia is a failed state.
    and woyane dogs coming to this website to confuse people.

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  7. DO YOU KNOW WHAT A FAILED STATE IS ? Mr. MESFUN ,IT IS WHERE YOUR YOUTH ARE BEING FED TO THE SHARKS IN THE MED SEA...YOUR COUNTRIES SOURCE OF FOREIGN CURRENCY .....GADDAFIS LIBYA. DO YOU KNOW THAT FOREIGN INVESTMENT IS TRIPLING IN ETHIOPIA FROM THE WEST/EAST.IS IT BECAUSE OF ITS FAILURE, MORON,IT IS ITS STABILITY AND PEACE ,THAT IS INVITING ALL THE INVESTMENT. DID YOU NOT HEAR THAT YOUR PAST ALLY EGYPT IS INVESTING IN ETHIOPIA.THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU POST YOUR NONSENSE ,IT WOULD NOT MAKE YOUR ERITREA ANY BETTER.DD.

    ReplyDelete

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