Eritrea: The reality of life inside “Africa’s North Korea”

Have you ever wondered why so many people are fleeing Eritrea?

Eritreans are the third largest group of refugees making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. It’s one of the fastest-emptying countries in the world, with 5,000 people leaving every month.

So why are so many Eritreans forced to leave their home country?

Eritrea is often described as “Africa’s North Korea”. The nation became independent from Ethiopia in 1993. Isaias Afwerki, leader of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, has been its only President.

The People’s Front for Democracy and Justice is the only political party that is allowed to exist. The country has been ranked as the worst in the world for press freedom eight years in a row.

There is no freedom of speech, religion or movement. Citizens can be held without charge or trial. Many are tortured during detention.

“Eritreans, many of them children, are refugees fleeing a system that amounts to forced labour on a national scale.” –  Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

A 2015 UNHCR report described the Eritrean government’s use of extrajudicial killing, torture, rape, indefinite conscription and forced labour as ‘crimes against humanity’.

Despite all this, the UK government had tried to claim that Eritrea was a safe country to send asylum seekers back to – based on a report by the Danish Immigration Service that has even been discredited by the researchers who wrote it.

As a result of the Home Office’s relaxed guidelines, asylum acceptance rate for Eritreans fell from 73% to as low as 34% in the second quarter of 2015.

Children from the Calais ‘Jungle’ were not given safe passage to the UK under the Dubs Amendment because of those guidelines. [Calais video]

87% of Eritreans refused asylum in the UK under those relaxed guidelines had the decision overturned by the courts upon appeal. 

Watch a video explaining the situation below: