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This week is part five of what has now turned into a six-week series highlighting stories of immigration. It was not on the original list to talk about Eritrea. However, as I did more research on the topic of immigration in Europe, I learned about this crisis and felt that it warranted its own weekly program.  It will be shorter than the others primarily because I had to remove a 20 minute BBC video that was no longer available on the Internet.
Questions for you as Rotarians: did you know about the humanitarian crisis in Eritrea prior to this weekly program? 
Thousands of refugees are fleeing to Europe, prompting heated debates on how to manage the escalating asylum seeker crisis. Many refugees are Eritreans, fleeing a tiny police state viewed as Africa’s North Korea.
Eritrea received its independence in 1993, after a long war with neighbor Ethiopia.
For most Eritreans, the destination is Paris. Once there, even in Paris, Eritreans fear the ‘mosquitoes’ – informers for the regime of Isaias Afwerki, a freedom fighter turned alcoholic dictator who has ruled the country with an iron fist since Eritrean independence in 1993.
In a report published June 8, a UN investigation concluded that the Eritrean government’s systematic human rights violations may amount to crimes against humanity.
It’s what fleeing Eritreans have been saying for years: the country is run like a massive prison camp. Teenage conscripts are often held in slavery-like conditions indeterminately and reports of arbitrary detention and torture are widespread.
The Eritrean government polices the borders, controls movement (even from one neighbourhood to another) and keeps tabs on the population with an integrated network of “mosquitoes”.
Eritrean refugees in Paris still seem plagued by fear. Sentences trail off, suggesting haunting experiences that are left unsaid.
An Eritrean man speaks about the torture he endured
If you would like to hear a story of an immigrant from Eritrea, please follow the link to the youtube videos below. Please note that, while not graphic, it is still fairly disturbing, hence why we link to it as additional content but do not include them as part of the program.
Additional Sources for this week's post
Coming Up
Next week we will be looking at immigration stories in the USA.
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