99.9% of Eritreans who leave their country are economic migrants: Western Diplomats in Asmara

Eritrean News: 99.9% of Eritreans who leave their country are economic migrants: Western Diplomats in Asmara

A report from the Danish Immigration Service’s fact finding missions to Ethiopia and Eritrea reveals that 99.9% of Eritreans who leave their country do so for economic reasons.

Eritrean economic migrant in Israel - Tel Aviv

The Danish mission points to the large Eritrean Diaspora coupled with the preferential treatment of Eritrean asylum applicants in the West as major pull factors that cause young Eritreans to leave their country.

Moreover, unnamed Western embassy officials and a UN agency in the country informed the mission that “hardly anyone leaves Eritrea for political reasons.”

The report also states “There are no mass violations of human rights in Eritrea”, and compared the human rights situation and poverty levels in the country as being “no worse than in most other African countries”.
The following excerpt was taking from page 41 of their report:


According to a Western embassy (B), approximately 50% of all extended families in Eritrea have a family member living abroad. Going abroad has been a tradition since at least World War II. Thus, a well established network between the Diaspora and families in Eritrea has been in operation since then. The two percent income tax levied on members of the Diaspora is considered a ‘rehabilitation tax’ by the government intended to help financing the rebuilding of the country. It should be remembered that other countries charge their citizen fees for issuance documents such as passports as well.

Emigration patterns

Since 2013 there has been an increase in the numbers of Eritreans leaving Eritrea. The major cause for this is the so-called Mare Nostrum, i.e. the Italian navy’s operations where asylum seekers are being picked up in the Mediterranean Sea and transported to Italy safely. Thus, it has become much easier and safer for asylum seekers to cross the Mediterranean and get to Italy, many of whom are Eritrean nationals. The biggest risk to their lives is the way through Ethiopia, Sudan and Libya. In addition to that close to 100% of all Eritreans are granted asylum in Europe.

According to a Western embassy (B), 99.9% of all Eritrean asylum seekers in Europe are economic refugees. The extended families, which may comprise 50 persons, merge their savings in order for them to send a bright young relative, usually a man, to Europe. It is an investment and it is expected that the young man will send remittances back to his family in Eritrea. As long as the family knows that he will be granted asylum, they will not hesitate to send him off. But if the outcome was not given, the family would think twice before they send the young man to Europe. It was emphasized that the human rights situation in Eritrea is no worse than in most other African countries and poverty in Eritrea is not worse than in other African countries. There are no mass violations of human rights in Eritrea, and European countries do not grant protection to everyone from Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic or Egypt. In this respect, it could be argued that the Eritrean government has a point when it states that Eritrean asylum applicants received preferential treatment in Europe.

Commenting on Norway’s recent policy towards Eritrean asylum seekers, the Western embassy (B) stated that the Norwegian announcement of a possible return agreement with Eritrea had a huge psychological effect and it effectively drove down the number of Eritrean asylum seekers in Norway. That happened despite the fact that no one has been deported from Norway and despite the fact that though Eritrea accepts voluntary returns, especially when the returnees are given some money, it does not accept forced returns. It was added that Eritrea will not give assurances regarding human rights and it will not allow European countries to monitor unsuccessful asylum seekers who have been returned to Eritrea.

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