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Why Is Tiny Eritrea The Second-Biggest Source Of Migrants Crossing The Mediterranean?

Eritreans are the second-largest group of migrants crossing the Mediterranean so far this year and last year, according to the U.N.’s refugee agency. Syrians account for a third of the 90,000 migrants who made the crossing during the first five months of this year — but Eritreans account for over a 10th. They also accounted for almost a fifth of those making the crossing last year. In Italy, the most popular landing country for the migrants crossing the Mediterranean, Eritreans are the biggest group arriving, according to the International Organization for Migration. The number of Eritrean refugees arriving in the U.K. doubled last year to become the highest total from any single country, the BBC reported. But, if there’s no big war going on in Eritrea, why does everyone want to leave?

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Eritrea slams UN for ‘slander’ over rights report

President Isaias Afewerki has governed the East African nation for 22 years, and the country has never held elections since gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Eritreans account for the second-largest group of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, after Syrians, with an estimated 5,000 fleeing every month.

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Eritreans: Fleeing a Nightmare

Eritrea is a small and isolated country; conditions in the “North Korea of Africa” probably would not have attracted much attention if they weren’t a major driver of the worst migrant crisis facing Europe in decades. Eritreans account for about a quarter of the migrants trying to reach Europe and are the second-largest group by nation, after Syrians. More than 300,000 people have fled the country since 2000 and 4,000 leave each month—incredible numbers for a country of just 6 million people, despite the government’s shoot-to-kill policy at border crossings.

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North Korea on the Red Sea

Besides Syrians, no refugee population is trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in greater numbers than Eritreans — or paying so heavy a price in lives lost beneath the waves. There’s been scant attention paid to why, but a 500-page U.N. report published Monday offers a detailed and disturbing explanation for why citizens of Eritrea are fleeing their country en masse: The country, the world body’s researchers concluded, is a modern-day police state where basic freedoms are restricted, and the population lives in fear that they will be informed upon by the secret police’s ubiquitous network of informants.

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Torture, sexual slavery widespread in Eritrea

Women recruits meanwhile are routinely subjected to "sexual slavery", the report found. "I was ordered to bring girls to commanders' rooms. They would give me their names and I would go and collect them," a personal assistant to an official at the Wi'a training camp told the investigators. He said he would bring one or two girls a day, and that over a three year period, he had brought around 1,200 girls to the officers.

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Kenyans take out anger at Al-Shabaab on Somali residents

On May 31, a policeman from the northeastern border state of Garissa uploaded photos to Facebook showing a group of men hitting and flogging Somali migrants lying face-down on the ground. Commenting on the photos, Michael Orita wrote: “These Somali young men came to Garissa for a purpose but little did they know we r smarter than them.” The photos quickly sparked outrage on social media networks. A few hours after uploading them, Orita removed the pictures from his account. But by then they had already been copied and are still circulating online.

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Libya: Isis Kidnaps 86 Eritrean Christian Migrants, Sparks Beheading Fear

he abduction of 86 Eritrean Christian migrants by the Islamic State (Isis) militants from Tripoli on 3 June has sparked beheading fears, a Swedish-Eritrean activist has revealed. Meron Estefanos, human rights activist and co-founder of the International Commission on Eritrean Refugees in Stockholm, said that the abduction took place two days ago in Tripoli. On Friday, Meron Estefanos tweeted: "Breaking: 86 Eritrean refugees most from one town in #Eritrea got kidnapped by #ISIS in #Libya two days ago."

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Gunmen kidnap Eritrean asylum seekers

The United Nations says unidentified gunmen have attacked a group of Eritrean asylum seekers in the eastern part of Sudan, kidnapping 14 of them. On Thursday, the spokesman for UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Nicolas Brass, said based on the information provided by Sudanese authorities, a lorry of the Sudanese Commission of Refugees, which was taking 49 people to the Shagarab refugee camp, was targeted by the gunmen who were on a pickup truck. "We have been informed by the authorities that there was an abduction of 14 Eritrean asylum seekers on their way to the Shagarab camp from Kassala,” located near the border with Eritrea, Brass added.

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