Political map of Eritrea, (bordered by Sudan in west, by Ethiopia in south and by Djibouti in south east.) Political map of Eritrea, (bordered by Sudan in west, by Ethiopia in south and by Djibouti in south east.)

The quandary of human-trafficking issue in Eritrea

Eritrea`s relentless unstable political situation has reached a new plateau. The corrupt political agenda in our region is unquestionably deceiving our people and sadly it is not organic; it is manufactured and politically imported by cold hearted superpowers and manipulative societies lately obediently implement by treacherous allies in the region.

It is true the insignificant and endless political vying in our region resulted, in a disastrous economic and cultural crisis for the people of the region. The economic and political instability, has forced the displacement of people; sometimes with heartbreaking results. This is especially true when embarking on dangerous and risky routes to Europe, the Levant and nearby African countries.

This perpetuated crisis of human trafficking is becoming one of the worst tragedies for humanity; presently the solution is as difficult as the problem itself. The main motive for human trafficking is a complex phenomenon and normally varies from country to country. However, the following reasons are the main causes which affect human displacement: political instability, poverty, militarism, civil unrest, internal armed conflict and natural disasters. Such displacement exposes populations to increased exploitation and abuse through trafficking.

Currently, the majority of Eritrean youth have no dreams apart from crossing the border risking their lives in deserts and the Mediterranean Sea mostly aiming to reach Europe. According to a UNHCR report in 2014, “28,557 Eritreans arrived in Italy between January and August 2014, compared to nearly 10,000 in 2013 and approximately 2,500 in 2012.

An estimated 3,000 people have died in 2014 trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, over 2,500 since the beginning of June. An estimated 650-850 people are believed to have perished during sea crossings in the first half of September 2014”.

The statistical data reflects the extreme efforts of a people desperate for change and paying the ultimate price. What are the motives that are making our people leave their home land? If you ask any young Eritrean, what made him leave his country; the answer is, “endless military conscription”.

Recently, British journalists Paul Kenyon and Yalda Hakim have been unfairly reporting Eritrea`s socio-political cases from Sudan and Eritrea respectively. For example, Paul Kenyon was interviewing young Eritrean children at the Shagarab refugee camp on the border of Eritrea and Sudan. According to the journalist, some of these young Eritrean migrants are as young as seven years old and the older ones are about twenty years old.

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Referring to these young boys, he reported, “a compulsory open-ended military service lasting from 10 to 30 years, including year after a year of forced labour on farms or in factories”. In my opinion these journalists were being biased, they had formed an opinion and their report was very subjective. The media seems intent on creating totally negative impressions of my country.  Often journalists use fabrication to support their own political and ideological perspectives.

It is true that many risk their lives to reach Europe and other parts of the world just for economic reasons that is, to help their families. However, when they arrive at their dream countries some migrants start to politicize their link with their country in a very negative manner. It is an infectious disease and totally disrespectful considering the history of our Nation and dignity of our culture.

Looking at the economic situation, Eritrea has shown an incredible record of economic achievements and millennium goals; still the main reason for the majority of young Eritreans to migrate from their country is economic reasons. There are still economical instabilities (as there are throughout the world). The major influential points are:

  1. regional insecurity, especially related to the unresolved issues between Eritrea and Ethiopia and
  1. The enforcement of UNSC sanctions.

In spite of these problems, according, to an IMF annual report, Eritrea`s GDP grew by 8.2% in 2011, up from 2.2% in 2010, but falling mineral prices are expected to result in more moderate growth of 6.3% in 2012. Recently, (2015), Magidu Nyende and Luka Okumu reported in the “African economic outlook”, Eritrea`s current economic evolution. According to the article, Eritrea`s economic growth is estimated to have fallen sharply to 1.1% in 2013 from 7% the previous year and is projected to progress slightly to 1.9% in 2014, reflecting shrinkage of economic activities in many sectors, except in mining.

The report acknowledges the improvements in the education and health sectors due to increased investments in those sectors, and underlined the significant challenges with respect to creating and enabling the business sector.  The report concluded by highlighting the potential of the country for an increased internationalization of production and trade for mineral and agro-food exports in the future.

However, regardless of the statistics, as in any other developing countries, in our country (Eritrea) economic instability is the principal reason that forces people to leave the country and become victims of the cold-blooded human-traffickers. To my surprise, there are still hostile people who assume the main motive of this problem is only an internal problem; this is false and politically motivated. It is indisputable, and I cannot deny the internal short comings that exist and we have to face.

Nonetheless, most of these problems are related to the cyclical external pressure and economic sanctions. Due to these inequitable sanctions, it is not surprising to see illogical and emotionally motivated youths who are ready to take any action. But, let’s be honest with ourselves and bring this question down to a family level and ask; what really made my brother/sister leave the homeland, unlike the above mentioned points? Is it because they face threats of persecution and arrest in the country?

If yes, how much of the total youth displaced from this country is affected by the aforementioned threats? Is there endless military conscription in the country? If “yes”, this is understandably not a choice for us. It is a matter of survival as a nation. Though personally, I would rather oppose endless military conscription if we could obtain a stable political environment. For any case, recently, the Eritrean government has promised to limit the duration of the National Service to 18 months.

It has been decades since the international community, started interfering in Eritrea`s domestic political issues. Like in any other countries (Somalia, South Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan etc), Eritrea`s sovereignty is unequivocally violated.

I am perplexed, to see, for-example, the continued military presence of the neighbouring country (Ethiopia) in our sovereign land, after signing the final and binding Algiers Peace Treaty in 18 June, 2000. Such an observable fact creates a no-peace-no-war political atmosphere in the country. Over the years, several Eritrean opposition groups and individuals continue to consider such a violation of law as a minor problem. Instead the dispute is negatively addressed by suggestions that this is: “a pretext raised by the Eritrean government to deviate the peace negotiation with the neighbouring Ethiopia”.

Furthermore, it is contemptible and immoral to see a divided Diasporas society with such unsubstantiated and corrupt ideas. Likewise, the so called opposition groups are fully engaging in contaminating, through language, the populace with old fashioned ideologies of regionalism and religious discrimination. It is an easy option for these comfortably living groups to point fingers at their fellow Eritreans who are tirelessly engaging in building their nation with sweat and blood.

The perpetuate human-trafficking of our people cannot be stopped by ‘pointing fingers’ at each other discussing unnecessary issues. I am of the opinion that, the most inexcusable scenario of these groups is the incessant influence on the youth residing in the country. They brainwash them and as a result drive the young out of the country and expose them to a worst tragedy.

I find it tiresome to read inaccurate, biased reports which are, in my opinion, baseless and propagated beyond reality. It can be, seen as, the media exposure exporting their ideologies and cultural values onto a naive readership. The majority of Eritreans know the falseness and corruptness behind these stories. However, if we continue to remain silent and underestimate the ‘power of the press’ our country will continue to face tragedy. For example, it is a pity to see a divided Diasporas society with irrelevant and ambitious plans.

Nowadays, it is becoming fashionable to see such malevolent plans from the so called opposition groups residing outside of my country.  These, are groups having no clear objectives with an immature agenda and do not represent the Eritrean people. In addition, the majority of these groups are financed by the Ethiopian government and or other superpowers, which are historically known for their obscene agendas against our people (particularly the youth) and government of Eritrea.

Finally, we Eritreans fought for centuries against our common enemies turning into a reality, with our solidarity and determination, the creation of a proud nation.  Eritrea`s crystal-clear resource is “its people”, and historically it is proven that we challenged superpowers with no other resources, but our people. We created our nation with the priceless lives of our loved ones.

Therefore, it is our ultimate responsibility to keep our promises and participate in the development and in the stability of the country and fight against all odds. The current problems we are facing are part of the process of the long years of struggle. It will be an historic failure for our generation if we give-up trying to protect our nation. We should all unite and solve our problems and feed hungry minds.  I urge all of us to look meticulously deeply into the cause of our people`s problem and come-up with constructive ideas for a better future and development. Let`s all stand to heal our real wounds, and protect the country we love!

References

By Tsegai Medin

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