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Eritreans fighting for ISIS in Libya recognized by A 16-year-old Eritrean migrant who escaped captivity in Libya

'We were forced to watch IS cutting heads' "They made me watch everything," Nael said. "After the kidnapping they put us in one big hole, Eritreans and Ethiopians." "Then one day they came over and brought black clothes and asked 47 people to wear them. Then, they took them to the sea. They also carried 10 minors, I was among them. I saw when IS shot them dead. We kept screaming," he continued. The jihadists reportedly did the same with the rest of the group – about 14 people – who were forced to wear orange jumpsuits. "We were forced to watch IS cut their heads," Nael said. The boy was kidnapped on 3 March after he crossed Libya from Sudan along with other 61 Eritrean men, 10 Eritrean women and 8 Ethiopians. About 20 or 30 armed IS members stopped the Tripoli-bound caravan of migrants in the middle of the southern Libyan desert and they started asking religious questions. "They wanted to know who was Muslim among us. We Christians had crosses and pictures of Jesus, so we really couldn't hide it," he said. 'I keep seeing people being slaughtered and shot one by one' Somalians were allowed to continue, while Eritreans and Ethiopians were driven to the IS camp in the desert. There were about 300-400 members of the jihadist group in the camp and for days the prisoners, who were tied and held in a large hole, were told that "the boss will come and decided our destiny". Nael recognised three Eritreans fighting for IS. "We hoped they were going to help us, but instead they showed no emotions," he said.

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Eritrea at the Center of Europe’s ‘Clandestine’ Migration Crisis

How do you solve a problem like Eritrea? The European debate on migration in the Mediterranean has taken precedence because of the increasing number of deaths of those attempting to cross. Many more will attempt to reach Sicily from Libya as the weather improves over the spring and summer, the busiest seasons of the year because of the calmer and presumably safer waters. As the debate about how to manage the inevitable surge of boatloads of refugees has focused on renewing the so-called ‘Mare Nostrum’ policy of sending European patrols closer to the Libyan coast, there is an element of analysis that continues to be missing. It concerns the causes of such risky migration in the first place. Why do so many men and women risk their lives and those of their families in making a trip with effectively limited chances of success? There is an apparent determination to shun an analysis of what is happening and what can be done in the country from where the overwhelming majority of these refugees originate: Eritrea. Indeed, all the corpses found during the night after the shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa last week were Eritrean. A whole generation of youth have been forced to leave their country, oppressed by the dictatorship.According to United Nations estimates, about 4,000 people escape from this small country in the Horn of Africa every month. Last year alone, nearly 10,000 arrived in Italy. Many are lost during the trip; about a hundred people a day flee from Eritrea through the Sudan. Those who are caught early get arrested because they lack papers; others die in the Sahara desert as they make their way toward the Libyan coast from the south, some may even fall prey to organ traffickers. Eritrea has earned the reputation of a country with a poor human rights record. The grave violations of human rights include arbitrary detention of those perceived to be political enemies, including opposition members (who have to operate in secret), journalists, and even former allies of president – or rather dictator – Isaias Afewerki.

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Mediterranean migrants crisis: Italy ‘at war’ with people smugglers

Italy says it is "at war" with migrant traffickers, and has urged the EU to take robust action to stop more people dying in the Mediterranean. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi made the comment ahead of an EU summit on Thursday to discuss the crisis. Italy's Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti told Italian TV that the EU should consider military intervention. More than 800 people drowned off Libya's coast on Sunday, bringing the number of deaths this year to 1,750.The number of people attempting to flee war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, particularly Eritreans and Syrians, has spiked in recent months, leading to huge numbers of people drowning in unseaworthy and often overcrowded vessels.

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Eritrea: Africa’s land of exodus

Eritrea is the world's most censored country according to a new list released by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Thousands of Eritreans flee to Europe to escape torture and arbitrary arrests.Mohammed Idris speaks softly as he vividly recalls his journey a year ago. It took him from Eritrea to Europe. "In Libya, it was very hard. I even had to spend a month in prison," says the Eritrean. Then he ventured the crossing to Europe. "We boarded a boat and went across the Mediterranean to Italy." Unlike many others, Mohammed Idris made it to Germany. Each year, thousands of Eritreans flee the Horn of Africa nation. According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, over 300,000 Eritreans fled the nation of 6.5 million inhabitants last year. It's not just the men, but also many women and their children who risk everything to take the perilous journey across the desert and into the Mediterranean. "The majority of them are very young," Mussie Zerai, a Catholic priest who fled to Italy from Eritrea more than 20 years ago, told DW in an interview.

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Terror threat puts Kingdom on top alert

Saudi Arabia has put security forces on alert for a possible militant attack on vital energy installations and popular shopping malls, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said on Monday. “There was information about a possible terrorist attack targeting a mall or Saudi Aramco installation. We have passed this information to the security forces to be on alert,” Al-Turki said in a statement. Al-Turki said he had no further information about the threat. Riyadh has been carrying out airstrikes against Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 26 in Operation Decisive Storm for restoring the country’s legitimacy. “Saudi Arabia is targeted by terrorism. Usually in such situations (conflicts), there are attempts by terrorist groups to take advantage and carry out attacks,” said Al-Turki. On Saturday, guards at the gates of a central Riyadh shopping mall stopped single men from entering and searched the bags of female shoppers. In 2006, four Al-Qaeda militants breached the gates of Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq plant but couldn’t cause significant damage. Since then Saudi Arabia has strengthened the security of energy infrastructure and set up a 40,000-strong force for the purpose.

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Escaping Eritrea: ‘If I die at sea, it’s not a problem – at least I won’t be tortured’

Like many of her fellow Eritrean refugees, Sofia, who managed to escape northwards to Cairo, has a very simple reason for fleeing her homeland. “In Eritrea you’re even afraid to talk to your family,” she says. “The person next to me [in a cafe] could be a spy, and they are looking at what you are doing. People disappear every day.” One day, a friend made the innocent mistake of striking up a conversation with a man in a cafe who later turned out to be from the Libyan embassy. “They were just chatting. And they said she was a spy passing information to him. We don’t know what happened to her. She is in jail till now. One day they told us she was in hospital with high blood pressure but we were so afraid that we didn’t go because we feared they might arrest us too.”

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The 10 Most Corrupt Countries in the World: Eritrea # 10


10. EritreaCorruption score: 18Power structure: Single-Party Presidential DemocracyEritrea is a new entrant onto the list this year, having vaulted from number 25 to number 10 in 2014. Many people may have never even heard of Eritrea, let alone be aware of the corruption issues the country faces. Eritrea is located in Africa, bordering the Red Sea directly across from Saudi Arabia, bordering Djibouti to the south and Sudan to the north. Eritrea is a small and relatively poor country, with a GDP of only $3.44 billion, and a population of 6.3 million. The situation in Eritrea is clearly in flux. After years of relative self-imposed isolation, Eritrea has begun opening its borders to foreign business and investment, along with privatizing state-owned assets. That has allowed for some government officials, and others in power, to take advantage of their positions for personal profit. With undeveloped legal, economic, and political framework, the country has had a lot of trouble finding a stable foothold in the international community.Until Eritrea can sort out its internal problems, it’s likely that the country’s numerous issues will continue. Due to rule by a single party — despite being a democracy — a suitable minority party that can successfully challenge for power is likely what is needed. The economy is expected to continue to stagnate, and the prospect of war in the region spilling over into the country’s borders are also concerns for foreign investors.

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LISTEN: Phone call with migrants in trouble south of Malta as 1,500 head north

(Adds Ansa report that 350 migrants have been saved - others still out at sea) A group of some 620 migrants who left from Libya early in the morning issued an SOS after the engine on their vessel started misfiring. The group is just one of a number detected south of Malta. The AFM estimated that some 1,500 migrants could be at sea heading North. Ansa last night reported that 350 migrants were rescued about 30 miles from the Libyan coast. They were taken on board a merchant vessel. Times of Malta managed to contact the migrants on a satellite phone number provided by a source. An Eritrean migrant on the other end of the line said there were many women, two children and at least one pregnant woman on board. “Many people are vomiting, we have no water, we have no food… and the engine, sometimes it is stopping,” the migrant said. He said the boat was carrying mainly Eritreans and Somalis. They are believed to have left from Sabratha, 66 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli, earlier this morning. Italian rescue authorities picked up the SOS call from the boat and are coordinating the rescue.

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In Egypt, ex-military men fire up Islamist insurgency

(Reuters) - A small but highly dangerous succession of former Egyptian army officers are joining Islamist militant groups, complicating President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's efforts to counter what he calls an existential threat from extremism.These men are raising the stakes in an insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers and police since the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in 2013.

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