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Eritrea, the « African North Korea »

It is hard to guess what is happening behind the opaque borders of Eritrea. The small Sahelian country is among the poorest of the world. Eventhough the international community is not really aware of the situation inside the country, the thousands of refugees fleeing from it testify of one of the thoughest and bloodiest dictatorship currently in power.

At first an Italian, then an English colony, Eritrea became part of Ethiopia before claiming its independence in 1991 and acceding to it in 1993 thanks to the maoist guerrilla led by Issaias Afewerki.
The latter took the head of the country and first launched important social reforms but his progressivist momentum was shattered by the war against Ethiopia which from 1998 to 2000 killed 80, 000 people.
Since then, the country turned into a prison for its 5 millions inhabitants living in a constant state of military mobilization. Though education is free for everyone and the health system is making dazzling progresses, people still haven't been granted the right to vote in this single-party system, and men as women have to go through a long military service and then through a civilian one. They can be called to join the 400, 000 soldiers of the Eritrean army at any time until they are fifty. Refusing to submit oneself to their obligations means risking become one of the 10,000 political jailed by the country. Leaving the country before being a man of 52 or a woman of 47 years old is condemned by death penalty. Hence around 60, 000 people runs away each year from this country where 2/3 of the population live below the poverty line in rural areas. Food safety is among the government priorities, which is also trying to develop a mining economy.

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