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Eritrea : The Forgotten Tragedy


  Eritrea, a small country in the horn of  Africa,  is hardly mentioned in the international media in spite of its appalling situation and the gross human right violations committed by the ruling regime led by president Isayass Afwerki. There was a feeling of great joy and high hopes amongst Eritreans just after its independence from Ethiopia on May 24, 1991. They hoped for freedom and prosperity to prevail in their country after the long years of suffering and war with Ethiopia , but nowadays most of them feel much disappointment and frustration in contrary to their big ambitions and  aspirations to build an advanced state.

  After a brief period of independence, Eritrea entered in wars and conflicts with almost all its neighbors like Sudan, Yemen, Djibouti and last and not least, it fought a very devastating war with Ethiopia  at the end of the 20th  century. Beside the thousands of victims and the injured people along with a very large material losses as a result of those conflicts, the effects of those wars  still has a heavy shadow and negative consequences on the domestic situation in the country.

  Just after the war ended with Ethiopia, president Isayass Afwerki started to follow a new policy of repression and terror against all those who oppose him or has an opinion and attitudes contrary to his regime’s policy. The regime arrested senior officials and former members of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), as they criticized president Afwerki’s way of governing the country and of having uniqueness of decisions. They have also demanded reforms and revisions of all the policies which have been followed by the regime. Afwerki’s regime also shut down all the private papers which were flourishing then and detained most of the journalists who were running these papers and until now nothing is known about their whereabouts.

Red Sea Eritrean Afar Refugees in Ethiopia

  In addition to the impacts of the destructive wars with the neighboring countries, the poor Eritrean people have been subjected to sanctions from the UN security council due the reckless policy and interventions of the ruling regime in the affairs of the neighboring countries  by destabilizing the peace and security of the horn of Africa region, especially in Somalia.

 The repression by the regime to its people escalated  and the general situation in the country becomes worse and the government extended the national service to unlimited period under the excuse of the border conflict with Ethiopia. As a result of these sufferings, many Eritreans especially the young people began to feel  a loose of hope for a decent and dignified life in their country. They have started to flee on a daily basis to the neighboring countries of the Sudan and Ethiopia in a trip full of risks to their lives as they cross the border to those countries, where there is a shoot to kill policy by the border guards of the Eritrean army.

 This risky journey might not be ended safely because the fugitives could be killed or caught by the Eritrean border guards and then they could be subjected to torture and humiliation in the concentration camps which are spread throughout the country, for about two-three years. Even those lucky ones who make a safe cross could be subjected to kidnapping from the human trafficking gangs in Sudan and then sent to Egypt (Sennai) where they are subjected to torture and rape by the gangs . Their organs are extracted  if they couldn’t pay a big ransom in US dollars in order to be freed. Hundreds of  young Eritreans lost their lives  at the hands of these gangs in the Sennai desert of Egypt while many others most of whom young people have died due to drowning in the waters of the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe in search of freedom and a better life.

  Unfortunately, this crisis  is still ongoing tragic to this day with no change in the internal regime’s policy towards the political, economic and social problems in the country, in contrary things are going worse every day and the disregard of the international community and ignorance of the international mass media to the tragedy of the Eritrean people is also continuing.

  It seems history is repeating itself as the world ignored the right of the Eritrean people in the liberation and creation of its own independent state at time when the rest of African countries gained independence in the 50’s and 60’s of the 20th century, leaving Eritrean people lonely without any champion. However Eritrea got their rights and independence through the sacrifices of his sons. Also it seems today as before the Eritrean people left alone in the face of one of the worst dictatorship and authoritarian regimes in the world. Eritrean people has no other option as a before except confrontation and sacrifices for the sake of freedom and dignity.

Mohammed Hiyabu

Eritrean  Journalist

Cairo, Egypt

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  1. “…Eritrea got their rights and independence through the sacrifices of his sons” should read: Eritrea got their rights and independence through the sacrifices of her sons & daughters. 🙂

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