Friday, October 23, 2015

African dictatorship fuels migrant crisis, AsiaOne World News

African dictatorship fuels migrant crisis, AsiaOne World News: "African dictatorship fuels migrant crisis

Photo: Wall Street Journal




ASMARA, Eritrea-On a cool March evening soon after his 16th birthday, Binyam Abraham waited until his mother and young siblings were sleeping and slipped away to begin the long trek toward Eritrea's southern border.

With his father trapped in open-ended military service that would soon snare him, too, Binyam walked for 19 hours without food or water to reach Ethiopia. He made a choice 5,000 of his countrymen make each month, by a United Nations estimate: to flee Eritrea and brave the world's deadliest migrant trail, across the Sahara and the Mediterranean to Europe.

They leave behind one of the world's fastest-emptying nations: a country of about 4.5 million on the Horn of Africa, governed by a secretive dictatorship accused of human-rights violations, that is playing an outsize role in the biggest global migration crisis since World War II.

"I didn't tell my mother before I left, but I didn't have a choice," Binyam said, sitting in a mud-brick shack at Adi-Harush, a refugee camp in the foothills of Ethiopia's Simien Mountains that has become ground zero for Eritrea's exodus. Flanked by five young friends, all planning to brave the same dangerous journey, he said: "I have to go to Europe so I can help my family."

Attention is focused, amid the intensifying migration crisis, on Syrians fleeing civil war and making a dramatic run to Europe. Yet by some measures, the exodus from the smaller Eritrea is more extreme. From the start of 2012 to the middle of this year, 1 in 50 Eritreans sought asylum in Europe, nearly twice the ratio of Syrians, based on data from the European Union statistical service Eurostat.

The UN estimates that 400,000 Eritreans-9 per cent of the population-have fled in recent years, not counting those who died or were stranded en route"



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