Most media narratives about Eritrea suggest an endless stream of young people fleeing the country, who couldn’t wait to escape. But the reality is far different and more nuanced—both when it comes to those who have left, and those who chose to remain.
The sudden peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the opening of their previously closed and dangerous border, sent shockwaves of hope and optimism throughout the two countries. But a new issue has arisen: whether Eritreans coming into Ethiopia should still be classed as refugees.
The utterly inconsequential-looking Ethiopian border town of Badme is where war broke out in 1998 between Ethiopia and Eritrea, lasting two years and devastating both countries.
It’s one thing to read about the exodus of souls flowing out of Eritrea, it’s quite another to look into the tired eyes, surrounded by dust and grime, of a 14-year-old Eritrean girl who’s just arrived on the Ethiopian side of the shared border.
It took Eritrean journalist Estifo* seven years to save up enough money to pay a fixer to get him and his family from the capital, Asmara, to the shared border with Ethiopia. After they crossed the border by foot, they turned themselves in to the Ethiopian authorities and claimed asylum as refugees.
On a sunny November day in Addis Ababa the courtyard of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) centre is packed with people—some attend a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reception clinic, others get essential supplies, while students attend classes, and many simply play volleyball, table football or dominoes to pass the time.
In response to the rapidly growing numbers of refugees and asylum seekers flooding European shores, France and the UK have announced new measures to crack down on English Channel crossings.
While technology has given millions greater freedom to express themselves, in the world's 10 most censored countries, this basic right exists only on paper, if at all.
“The unbearable number of lives lost at sea will only grow if the European Union does not act now to ensure search-and-rescue operations across the Mediterranean,” Human Rights Watch warned Apr. 15.
Tesfahiwet Medin holds a university degree and experience as a nurse. But six years after escaping the violent dictatorship in his native Eritrea, the 39-year-old says he feels like a part of him is missing, as he's been prevented from continuing in his profession in Israel.
In February 2013, 20-year-old Mohamed*, like hundreds of thousands of other Eritreans, fled the brutal dictatorship in that East African nation in search of a better life in neighbouring Sudan.