Eritrea – a Country Many People Flee From Part II
5: A country at war, even today
After the war, the constitution was shelved, and elections were postponed. In September 2001, there was a crisis in the PFDJ when a group of 15 leaders (G15) and former liberation heroes pushed for reform and democratization. All were arrested, all independent newspapers closed and also other opposition figures arrested. The government also began to persecute religious groups that had no roots back to before the liberation, this applied to both new Christian and Muslim groups. The repression became harder and harder, and the internet was strictly regulated. The only independent news stations were broadcast by opposition groups in Sudan and Ethiopia.
After the war, the military became increasingly important to President Isaiah. They accumulated wealth, they were given extended powers and from 2002 the opportunity to keep conscripts longer in for first-time service than the two years that were normal time for conscription. Conscripts could now be used for purposes other than purely military, including “socially beneficial development measures” such as the construction of roads and the like. But many claimed that soldiers were used as labor in the military’s private projects. After the war, full demobilization did not take place, and reservists were retained in the military.
All Eritreans in the twelfth grade must visit Sawa – a training camp for military training . In some cases, they may be under 18 years of age. The penalty for evading military service can be five years in prison; even their families can be punished. Conscription is feared because it is unpredictable- no one knows how long it will last, and there are many stories about women who have been sexually exploited during first-time service. Lack of control over these schemes has led to widespread corruption among senior officers who have used conscripts for their own gain. The system of very long-term conscription also led to poor morale among the troops. Many therefore flee to escape conscription. As a paradox, UN sources have pointed out that military leaders have been actively involved in the networks of human traffickers who smuggled Eritreans out of the country and into Sudan.
In sum, all this has led to fewer and fewer foreigners – aid workers, researchers and journalists – gaining access to the country; thus, they are unable to control the information from the country. At the same time, Eritrea has isolated itself from neighboring countries.
Eritrea continued to fight a cold war against Ethiopia after the peace treaty in 2000. An international arbitral tribunal granted Eritrea several of the disputed territories, but Ethiopia refused to withdraw and remains there. Several major powers want to have a good relationship with Ethiopia and have therefore sacrificed Eritrea for this.
Eritrea has fought against Ethiopia in Somalia and, among other things, supported the terrorist movement Al Shabaab ( Al Qaeda ally ); they saw the movement as an ally against Ethiopia. The problem was that the United States, the European Union, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi were involved in the fight against the group. This is how Eritrea was isolated from several African states.
In 2008, Eritrea attacked Djibouti , partly because they had a border dispute over the Dumera Mountains, but also because Eritrea pursued Eritrean deserters into the country. This signaled that Eritrea had in many ways developed into a military state , surrounded by enemies and with a military force that used force to maintain itself and its military strength. But it is still clear that the military capability of Eritrea has weakened, which also led to discontent in the army and a major mutiny in 2013. Isaias Afewerki then carried out both arrests and relocations among the officers.
6: Economic development
Eritrea has suffered from funding one of the world’s largest armies in terms of population. Economically, the country has had to restructure sharply in the last 15 years after the income from trade with Ethiopia and the transit trade from there fell away. Eritrean patriotism and willingness to pay as well as the collection of 2 percent tax from the diaspora have helped somewhat. According to the UN, the successful fundraising must have motivated Eritrean authorities to allow refugees to flee to Europe – so that they could make money on them.
Official growth in Eritrea has at times been high, largely as a result of mining and with South African partners. Eritrea still operates with a budget deficit and inflation of 12.1 per cent. Many Eritreans therefore have difficulty and need international help. There are also economic reasons for fleeing Eritrea, a country located in Africa according to topb2bwebsites.com.
At the same time, the importance of black market trading is increasing, partly because goods can be difficult to obtain, partly because the official currency exchange rates are poor and partly because the influx of refugees has led to the emergence of illegal networks within the regime as well. The migration has also helped to create economic networks through Sudan and Egypt, and some nomadic groups are heavily involved in the smuggling of refugees. The refugees are often kidnapped and pressured for money on their way through Sudan to Egypt.
Earlier, the refugees tried to reach Israel via Sinai, but an Israeli wall to keep the refugees out turned the flow of refugees away from the country. The state collapse in Libya from 2011 became a new opportunity for escape across the Mediterranean, which many have taken advantage of, and professional human traffickers are ready along the route to deal with the flight. Eritrea on its way out of isolation?
There are bright spots on the horizon for Eritrea. The civil war in Yemen, where Eritrea has sided with Saudi Arabia, has led to a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia and the Arab countries, and Eritrea now has a good relationship with Sudan as well and has received investment from Qatar. The country has also tried to establish a good relationship with Russia. The flow of refugees to Europe has also given Eritrea the power to negotiate with the EU, and many EU countries are now trying to improve relations with Eritrea to prevent migration.
Furthermore, Eritrea is in the process of drafting a new constitution, and there are signs that the country may change its conscription system, even though it is still there. From 2013 onwards, a local opposition that uses mobile phones and the internet to criticize the regime, the so-called “freedom freeday” (arbi harnet) movement, has emerged, despite the repression. But President Isaiah Afewerki is still a dictator. The challenge and dilemma for the West is to stop the flow of refugees and at the same time have to deal with an oppressive regime, which shows no signs of dismantling many of its oppressive mechanisms.