Brief Notes

This Essay is organized in two parts. Part one: exclusively deals with

1.      The causes that force Eritreans to migrate

2.      The fate of Eritreans caught “red handed” on their way to migrate and

3.      The danger of  “conspiring refugees” as claimed by the dictatorial system


Part two of the essay will mainly focus on:

1.      The plight of voluntary returnees from the Sudan

2.      The predicament of forced deportees from: The Island of Malta and Libya

3.      The motto “there is no place like home” embraced by UNHCR versus the reality on the ground in Eritrea:




Eritrea had for many years been exploited by oppressive colonial powers. Millions of Eritreans have escaped the country to free themselves from slavery. Before the downfall of the Dergue Military Junta, the flow of citizens to other countries continued as it had been before.

Eritrea is a small country with an estimated population of 4 million. Since independence and immediately after the PFDJ claimed power by the muzzle of the gun, the number of citizens escaping the country has increased in leaps and bounds. It is believed there are no less than 500,000 Eritrean refugees in the Sudan and about 1.5 millions scattered across the world. Apart from those refugees in the Sudan, the bulk of the rest of the 1.5 millions are dispersed in the USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt. Like the Jews in the Diaspora, there is no country in the world where an Eritrean has not sought refuge. Who would ever think of an Eritrean medical doctor in Terra Del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina or a zoologist in Iceland?

1. 1  Causes of migration under the dictatorial system.

Eritreans bound for migration do not aspire economic benefits from host countries. Those with relatives abroad who could afford to support them might be lucky enough to temporarily spare their lives but not for long. Before migrating therefore, they are determined to face discrimination, humiliation, unemployment, poverty and all the evils characteristic of being a refugee.

Eritreans opt to migrate in order to escape all viles and vice being implemented by the belligerent one-man dictatorial system. Some of the major reasons for citizens to migrate include:


  • Refusing, evading or defecting military service. Such “offences” by individuals are by the system considered “as the highest and most dangerous crime no less crime than betraying the country. “Offenders” are fined in cash or put in prisons for indefinite time or both. In case citizens refuse or escape somewhere to avoid military service, parents and families are detained until under duress, they inform the moles of the system of the whereabouts of their members. If parents or families object to respond to such investigations as expected, they are bound to face detention, harassment and torture “on behalf” of those the regime alleges “criminals of the state”. Hence one of the main reasons to escape the country and settle elsewhere.


  • Arbitrary detention, indiscriminate abduction and killing of innocent citizens  without due process of law. Chatting in street corners, informal social gatherings particularly during evenings is unsafe in villages and towns. eveninig school students have to show their school cards in order not to be suspected as sabeuters of the regime. Parents or families wait on their doorsteps until they make sure their members have safely come home. Failing to show ID cards during evening hours would for the faceless regime, mean “a culprit associated with an overt or clandestine organization” opposed to its blood-shedding system. Failing to present an ID card during late hours of the night is suicidal. Cognizant of their bleak future, youth prefer to migrate.


  • Extortion and misuse of financial contributions.  Employment opportunities are as empty as the coffers of the decaying regime. With vast financial deficit and trade imbalance bogged down by hyperinflation and the high trend affecting the ever-devaluating Nakfa, the impoverishing regime could only speculate “economic growth in the future”.


Of more concern to the employee or laborer is not his poverty, for poverty has been part of his life for many years under the obnoxious system. What frustrates him more is the money laundering exhorted from his nominal income without his consent under the disguise of “raising funds in contribution to national reconstruction”. A concealed directive aimed at the purchase of armaments and the huge salary of the armed forces. Repugnant of such ruinous intentions, laborers and employees choose to migrate, not for economic benefits, but because of wars and news of wars.

  • Prohibition of Peaceful mass demonstrations, deprivation of freedom of thought and speech, denial of  access to justice and all forms of human rights. Individuals or groups who voice out the legitimate demands and grievances of the people are instantly abducted and driven to prison cells. Most of them face brutal treatment the where about of the majority of victims is not traceable, only known to the heinous agents of the security apparatus. Queries by parents or families on the conditions of their beloved are considered a crime by the rogue system. These haunting conditions force many to seek sanctuary in foreign countries.
  • Broad based political pluralism is not existent.. Since its forceful claim to power, President Isayas has declared “any opposition party will never operate inside Eritrea; Pluralism will never be tolerated… In case parties opposed to PFDJ operate overtly or covertly in Eritrea, they shall harshly be treated:  That ill-conceived “directive” still prevails. And as such, although there are about 23 Eritrean opposition parties, none of them operates from inside the country. Out of fear of the killer system, few people raise issues on national politics. The inadequacy of the system in all fronts is condemned by a cross-section of the Eritrean society but struggling from inside the country would only bring about more bloodshed in an already blood-drenched country. Highly apprehensive that such eventuality could avail themselves any time and cognizant that if they occur they could ensue more serious havoc, destabilization and destruction therefore, people would resort to migrate, the only choice they believe is safe.
  • The system rules by decrees and the muzzle of the gun. Since its very inception as a power-monger, Isayas and his cronies have never thought of formulating a constitution that would agitate and invite popular participation of the enslaved people under its tyranny. It has denied them their wishes and aspirations to peace, freedom, justice, equality and democracy for which they have struggled for more than thirty years. PFDJ is the sole proprietor of the legislative, judiciary and executive branches of government. The oppressed peoples have absolutely no say on the future destiny of their country. Scared by “revenge” from the part of the regime, they rely on migrating to escape torture and humiliation.
  • Constant and consistent illusion and oblivion. Constant fear, frustration, depression and obsession with persistent feeling of social and economic insecurity daily haunt each and every Eritrean in his very country of origin. No one is immune to the harsh and crude treatment of the system. For the disgraced system, zipping off one’s lips or keeping silent out of fear is the primary strategy it opts for absolute power. The peoples are therefore, in illusion and immersed in oblivion. Realizing their bleak future under these oppressive conditions would not improve, they prefer to seek asylum in other countries.
  • Elections” for the ordinary Eritrean is a sugar-coated rhetoric. The peoples are forced to elect from among PFDJ members. Opposition parties, celebrities, representatives of professional associations and leaders of labor unions are not allowed to contest in elections unless they are members of PFDJ. Therefore those elected do not represent the disenchanted people.  PFDJ exhorts its absolute power, without much ado to legality and hence, a totalitarian system in a police state, and without any jurisdiction to rely on except on the might of the gun. Fearing execution, many citizens try their lack to save their lives by escaping the country.
  • The  regime is intent’s on triggering another war. As if “adding insult to injury” has not been enough, the bloodthirsty system is these days heavily busy reinforcing its military regimentation. It is lavishly spending its meager resources on military hardware. Thousands of young peasants are being taken away from their farms and that many numbers of students from schools. President Isayas, in his address to the nation has reported that 19 thousand Eritreans have been sacrificed during the Eritro-Ethiopia border war. He hasn’t made any mention of POW’s, casualties or those lost or unaccounted for.

As a consequence of the bloody war, many households have lost their breadwinners or wage earners. The sad result has left the elderly and infants to their fate; and therefore escalating the poverty of the country to the extreme, unprecedented in Eritrean history. Another round of war would only entail total ruin in an already poverty stricken country. No wonder many citizens would not have any other option but leave the country to avoid yet another catastrophe.

  • Famine and drought neglected in favor of militarism. Drought was casting its shadow on Eritrean soil about the time the Ethiopia-Eritrea war to be provoked by the PFDJ system. President Isayas knew and more than anybody else, that war was imminent. He was the perpetrator of the war himself after all. He was persistently advised by world leaders to avoid war and to attend to the then ongoing rampant famine and starvation. His stubborn and die-hard nature failed him to concede to their advice. War mongering was his foremost priority and victory to his ultimate dream. To that end he irresponsibly spent on armaments and in installing military camps, trenches— etc at the cost the starving people.

Had he not indulged in that bloody war, the extent of famine would have been manageable within reasonable bounds and in a much shorter period of time. Currently, as reported by President Issayas himself, out of the total population of Eritrea, over 60% are starving with the majority of them on the brink of famine.

The humiliating defeat has badly damaged his ego. Bravado and vanity abound, he is preparing himself for bloodshed. He can’t afford to give the Eritrean people a split of a second to breath peace and recover from their shock and past wounds. To fulfill his dreams to that effect, he is amassing as many youth as he could for military service.

Despite these hard facts, with almost no work force in agriculture, commerce and industry and other sectors of the economy, the livelihood of the people and the predicament of the nation hang in the balance. Military service is the sole “forced” job opportunity in Eritrea today. Certificates, diplomas and degrees are not given to graduate students pending six months military training and a national service ranging 18-24 months. The war-like system attaches great importance to military might to sustain its tyrannical regime, which the youth are enchanted with. Youths believe they should not perish for unjust cause. They migrate to other countries in hundreds of them and on daily basis.

1.2  The fate of Eritreans  caught “red-handed” on their way to migrate

Even for Eritrean citizens, traveling within the limits of Eritrean borders is highly restricted. Parents, families, relatives and friends should posses an authorized travel pass from their surrounding “public security offices”, incase they need to visit newly married couples, or to console families of deceased compatriots  — etc. Failing to live up to security restrictions could amount to detention for indefinite time. In brief, the Eritrean peoples have been and remain deprived of the freedom of movement. Labor mobility is also restricted by similar decrees. The social and economic bond that has demonstrated the unity of the Eritrean peoples for centuries is thus being rudely abrogated by the anti-human and anti-social progress regime. The peoples realizing their fundamental rights to freedom of movement is also vanishing away as with their other rights, they have the least interest to stay at home. Scared lest they risk their lives, they decide to flee the country, whatever the consequences might cost them.

Crossing Eritrean boarders to seek refuge or sanctuary is therefore extremely dangerous, Eritreans tracked on their way to neighboring countries are termed as “traitors” or “informers” to a country they are bound to seek asylum and hence killed in cold blood on the spot. Their remains are left in the wilderness to rote or be consumed by scavengers. Many hundreds have fallen prey to such horrors in their attempts to cross to Ethiopia and the Sudan.

Hundreds of Eritreans have perished on their way to Yemen. Causes for death are two. Firstly, the boats that they hire (which cost not less than USD 450 per passenger) get so congested and as a result capsize before they reach their destination. Escapees prefer night voyages for fear of being apprehended by coast guards. Nonetheless, boats engaged in such precarious voyages are fragile and are not equipped with life-saving boats and not fitted with navigational instruments. And as such, they are vulnerable to crushing or capsizing under pressure of waves or strong winds. The absence of flashlights is their Achieles’ heel and hence bound to miss their intended direction, ensuing shipwrecks and drowning of passengers.

Secondly, if such disgruntled peoples with the system are apprehended on their way to Yemen by Eritrean cost guards, they are cordoned off by military frigates and shot at indiscriminately.

Obviously, these and similar acts of crime committed by the tyrannical system are politically motivated. It is at odds with its three neighboring states because of the conflicts it has triggered to destabilize their respective countries. The enmity the dictatorial system designates refugees bound to seek sanctuary in those countries as “renegades” or “red coats” whether civilians or military men. Apart from physical and mental torture, such victims could face mutilation under the deadly hands of their captors.

Hence, Eritrea is an inferno no less than during the Dergue Regime. Against all these humanly inconceivable risks however, Eritreans keep on migrating; they chose to risk their lives on their way to migration. They could no more endure the harsh realities imposed on them by the reckless system.

1.3. “The danger of “conspiring refugees” as claimed by the dictatorial system.

The one-man dictatorial system does not bother itself to differentiate between voluntary repatriation and forced deportation of refugees. Prejudice abounds against refugees; all returnees and particularly those from the Sudan, Ethiopia and Yemen are considered as “deadly enemies of the state”. But the scourge it lays on forced deportees is by far more ferocious and tragic. Even those citizens and in thousands of them, who left the country during colonial rule are allegedly accused of “spies” of those countries in which they have lived for years. Many, who have earned wealth and much needed skill, who could have invested in the country have shied away as a result.

But more than anything, the decaying system attaches great political importance to those refugees who had escaped the country since its grip on power. No one has ever been pardoned for his/her crime on account of his being a refugee. Very few are eager to resettle in their country but even in separate incidents each and every voluntary returnee is meticulously followed-up as to his movements and his contacts with other citizens.

The self-defacing system, rather than accommodating its citizens by peaceful means, is bent on fomenting false propaganda against refugees, which it describes as “puppets of the Sudan, Ethiopia or Yemen” depending from which country they come from, “with the intent of sabotaging or dismantling the system”. It accuses opposition forces as “mercenaries” in a bid to justify its undemocratic doctrine, which defies popular participation, and to make it seem credible its ridiculous handling of governance. The die-hard system is thus all the more forcing the impoverished peoples to abandon their country and the majority of them for good.

It has been confirmed by various sources that an average of ten Eritreans cross the boundary to Ethiopia on daily basis and thrice that number to Sudan. That whose destination is Yemen exceeds 50-60 twice a year. Many perish on the way as briefly described above. It could therefore be fairly stated that given the present alarming pace of migration plus those who have already migrated adds up to about half of the total Eritrean population. The above-described conditions are tangible evidences that testify and in concrete terms, the PFDJ system is anti-peace, anti-human, anti-democratic and anti-development.

1.4. The predicament of voluntary returnees and the plight of forced deportees;

POW’s of the Ethio-Eritrea border war who were handed over to the dictatorial system with the International Red Cross as an intermediately, were on arrival treated as “retreatists, for failing to cope up with government is strong desire to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country”.  They were driven to prison camps inside which they are being humiliated and tortured for their unforgettable and unforgivable crimes”. In contravention to international laws and conventions, junior officers and troopers were assigned to construct rough roads in the semi-arid regions of the country, exposed to extreme heat under the scourge of the scorching sun and without any shelter and adequate food for that matter. Many are dying of hunger and dehydration. Senior officers designated as “top notch sinister planners for defeat” are agonizing in dark cells, vulnerable to blindness. Many have lost their limbs.

Such fears, suspicions and traits being evident in the souls and minds of President Isayas and his entourage, “amnesty or “mercy” for Eritrean returnees from Diaspora could under no circumstances be imagined. A cruel system which dehumanizes and cajoles large contingent of its army for their being POW’s is not only tragic but also barbaric which should be condemned in the strongest of terms. The same holds true with the plight of returnees, whether or not they have been voluntarily or forcibly repatriated to their country, and whether or not they are civilians or military men. Their fate upon return is either the same or similar. Several concrete examples could be listed down to confirm the plight of Eritrean returnees.

(Cont’d ……..)


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Posted by on Sep 24 2005 Filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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