This is a guest post by Amanda Roth, a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a recent graduate from the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, where she studied international security policy.
According to the International Organization for Migration, 23 percent of the 170,100 refugees that arrived in Italy by sea last year were from Eritrea. In a country of only 6.3 million, the United Nations estimates that approximately five thousand people flee every month. Eritrea has been largely ignored internationally, but increasing numbers of refugees, a growing diaspora community, and the regime’s involvement in instability in the Horn of Africa may mean that it is time to take a closer look at the police state that has been called the “North Korea of Africa.”
Earlier this month, the UN released a report illuminating the country’s horrific conditions and accusing the Eritrean government of “systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations.” The report is only the latest to condemn the government of President Isaias Afwerki, who has ruled the country without elections for more than twenty years and exerts control over nearly every aspect of daily life.