ERITREAN DIARIES

2016

Eritrea is one of the poorest and most isolated countries in the world, from which many of the migrants who land on our shores flee. But now it is betting on peace (with Ethiopia), mining and even tourism.

In this small country in the Horn of Africa with just over five million inhabitants (excluding emigrants), the totalitarianism of President Isaias Afewerki has stifled all freedom. Yet there was much optimism in the 1990s.
Unfortunately, yesterday's 'liberation forces' have turned into a single party - the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice (Fpdj), founded in 1994 - which often resorts to repression. Arbitrary arrests, executions outside any legal procedure and torture are a sad reality, denounced on more than one occasion by human rights NGOs. As a result, Eritrea, a former Italian colony, has become one of the most isolated states in the world. The country is now known by the unenviable nickname 'North Korea of Africa'.


Deprived of many of their fundamental rights, the young men and women, who can be called to arms for an indefinite period, think of only one thing, fleeing from a paranoid dictatorship. Every week hundreds of Eritreans, especially the youngest, take the road of exile to Europe via Libya. And today they form one of the largest refugee contingents on the old continent after Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis.
But all this does not seem to induce Afewerki to acknowledge his faults. Speaking about this mass emigration, the 23-year old autocrat of Asmara denounced the 'economic sabotage' orchestrated by the international community to 'create poverty and famine'. According to him, the aim is to 'provoke a crisis situation in the country'.