The Guardian view on Eritrea: a regime of terror – Editorial

Europe’s response to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean has rightly – if belatedly – focused on saving lives. Not a week goes by now without thousands of Africans, Asians and refugees from the Middle

Europe’s response to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean has rightly – if belatedly – focused on saving lives. Not a week goes by now without thousands of Africans, Asians and refugees from the Middle East being rescued off the coast of Italy by European ships. That is the welcome result of a humanitarian effort decided in late April, after a series of tragedies at sea had pushed EU leaders to act at last. But it would be dangerous to suppose that the deeper problem has been addressed. Europe deals only with the symptoms of migration, not its root causes. Eritrea is a striking case in point.

This east African nation of 6 million people is now one of the biggest sources of migrants who take the perilous journey into Sudan and then across Libya before finally setting out to sea towards Europe’s shores. There is no civil war in Eritrea, nor has there been an international military intervention. What Eritreans desperately try to escape is a dictatorship that sounds close to being Africa’s equivalent of North Korea. The UN’s inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, in a damning report published earlier this week, found what it called “a pervasive control system used in absolute arbitrariness to keep the population in a state of permanent anxiety”. It describes torture, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, indefinite military conscription, forced labour. It is a comprehensive description of how President Isaias Afwerki, in power for 23 years, rules through fear.

In the face of the systematic inhumanity of his regime, Europe has turned a blind eye. Even worse, the EU has in recent months decided on a new development aid package to Eritrea, worth over €300m. The argument is that financial support will help stem the flow of asylum seekers pouring out of the country. But it is not likely to work like that. Rather, the aid will first feed the cynicism of a dictatorial system only too happy to feel vindicated in its twisted assertion that Eritreans are migrating for predominantly economic reasons, not political ones. Second, such a policy does nothing to relieve those who so desperately need urgent help. Europe is not only compromising its own values by turning a blind eye to tyranny, it is rewarding a regime with aid instead of thinking strategically.

Any reading of the UN report should tear down this convenient myth. The EU must base its action not on wishful thinking but on the report’s core conclusion, which is that crimes against humanity may be being committed in Eritrea. This means that European governments, including the UK’s, that have tried to cast Eritreans as economic migrants, must seriously consider changing course. If Eritreans are fleeing persecution, Europe’s obligation is to be open to them, not to retreat behind false representations. If aid is to be delivered, it must come with strict obligations attached. There may be no easy solution to Eritrea’s domestic situation, but the very least one should expect from Europe is to recognise the facts: it is a totalitarian state whose refugees are not, or not only, in search of work but who are fleeing a very real terror.

Source: TheGuardian

Review overview
  • Zemben June 11, 2015

    Absolutely correct and very truthful this man and all his criminal friends and generals must GO to hell.
    Peace and Love to the Eritrean People
    United Kingdom

  • Bus-zone June 11, 2015

    What is new they know I mean( THE WESTE) know the head of the bandits in Asmara is manic depressed despot who have no mercy on young or old ,unless we the Eritrean people re-visit 1961 we will be talking the next 20 years with no End .

  • yonas June 11, 2015


  • Amanuel June 11, 2015

    What an article, it spoke my heart 100%. This is the kind of message I have cried for weeks to say. Thank you ‘The Guadrian’.

  • AHMED SALEH June 11, 2015

    For many of us the regime showed it’s dangerous side from the day in early 1990’s when they start
    to terrorize and eliminate native Eritreans all around the country .
    Semiena kem zesemaena , rieena kem zeyreana yehlifnayo
    What we created nowadays is the product of people denial . Therefore , this kind of report might
    surprise us because of our expectation from outside attention which is sad and shouldn’t be that
    way wating for hand over .
    Bring on Eritrean legacy of patriotism dedicated to make difference otherwise nothing will change .

  • Genet-orginal June 11, 2015

    The Guardian just spoke the truth.
    “a pervasive control system used in absolute arbitrariness to keep the population in a state of permanent anxiety” Right on!!!!
    True Eritreans know this fact. A lunatic dictator attempts to rule a society with fear, breaking up a family and creating a dysfunctional society out of a very conservative Eritrean society. Dictator Isayas legacy: fear, terror, horror, panic, hopelessness, disbelieve, shocking, hate, disrespect and division.

    The EU needs to stop the plan to reward this lunatic dictator with 300 m Euro. He will never stop his action of terror against the Eritrean people or destabilizing the region and dumping refugee to the EU’s door steps. if the dictator’s problem was money, he could have used the money he hid to solve it. Money is not the problem. But, he is the problem. The system he crated is the problem. You can’t just unload that kind of money on a system and man that is completely broken and useless. The EU should know better.
    If there is such a problem with one of the EU country, would the EU action be the same? I doubt it.
    Stop the EU from enabling a mad man in Eritrea.

  • Mana June 12, 2015

    The Guardian advocates in favour Eritrean people all the time. They have written volumes in their newspaper since Isaias came to power. We, Eritreans, have not had any ears. We blame them for their good will. Look how they push their own government to accept Eritreans unlike their many compatriots. Are they our enemy? Not at all. They support democracy and rule of law everywhere. Human right in UK must be Human right in Eritrea. This people are the true believers of democracy and rule of law. Thanks the Guardian for your relentless effort to our cause.