By AskaNews [*Google translation from Italian],
“Why Europe and Italy are so surprised and speak of migratory problem, when it was the West that invite the Eritreans to leave their Country, attracting them with opportunities for study and work? If Europe stops automatically granting political asylum to Eritreans, the Eritreans will stop leaving.”
This is what the Eritrean Foreign Minister H.E. Osman Saleh Mohammed, said while interviewed by askanews on the sidelines of the Eritrean Community Festival in Italy.
In 2015 there were about 47,000 Eritreans who have sought asylum in Europe, but the Minister has questioned the reliability of these numbers, arguing that when some European countries have adopted a policy of automatic political asylum only to the Eritreans, even “Ethiopians, Somalis, Sudanese and even Yemenis has began saying they are Eritreans and the numbers have increased.”
“The Eritreans have started to cross the border when they were told that they would get education, a job, they would have a lot of money and that they would live a dignified life. Some European countries have told them that Europe is a paradise. At the same time, argued the Minister, “Ethiopia has started to say that they could easily send them to the United States and Europe and have set up some camps in Tigray [northern region of Ethiopia, on the border with Eritrea]. And they started to leave. In Sudan, however, there were already camps .”
According to the Minister, there are networks of human traffickers operating in Ethiopia and Sudan. When asked on the likely involvement of Eritrean nationals, the Minister recalled that President Isaias Afewerki has sent “a letter to the United Nations asking to investigate the smuggling of migrants and they have not responded yet.”
At the recent meeting in New York with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, he was told that there might be the possibility of sending a delegation from the UN Office on Drug and Crimes to discuss about it, but they should set up a Committee to investigate this matter.”
“It’s not true” that “Eritreans are fleeing from persecution,” argued the Minister, because “they were invited by the West to leave the country. It was done deliberately, as a political strategy, “ and the Minister linked that with the 1998 – 2000 conflict with Ethiopia and never actually concluded because Ethiopia did not implement the Algiers agreement and started to call for a regime change. And to accelerate this regime change they have created the brain drain by financing it.
At the same time, Europe has decided to give political asylum to Eritreans. They wanted to create the perception that the Eritreans were being persecuted by the Government and have branded Eritrea as North Korea of Africa. They insulted Eritrea.
Last June, the UN Commission of Inquiry accused the Asmara government of crimes against humanity. A report dismissed as politically motivated by the Eritrean authorities. And spread “in conjunction” with a military attack moved from Ethiopia on the border. “How come these two events were simultaneous?”, said the minister to askanews.
In fact, the United Nations indicates the indefinite national service as the main reason for the migration of Eritreans, although the law fix its duration to 18 months. But for the minister, “the issue of the 18 months of national service is not an issue in itself, because Ethiopia still occupying our territories, when the border was already demarcated in a final and binding agreement.
Ethiopia is not respecting the agreement because the guarantors and witnesses of the Algiers agreement, the US, UN, EU, AU and Algeria, … no body to date has pressured Ethiopia to withdraw from our territories. They talk about it, but do not make pressures. Eritrea has to defend itself and the young people must participate. Why asking us to lower to 18 months while our land is occupied?“
“If they start putting pressure on Ethiopia to respects the Algiers Agreement, we are ready to restore the 18-months military service,” he added.
“Meanwhile, to stem the flight of its young people, the government is taking action to create jobs and raise salaries of the persons who were providing the national service, which was totally inadequate compared to the cost of living. After three months of military training, those who do not follow a military career are used in schools, in public administration, in agriculture, in the construction industry and other development program in the country.
“We are equating the salary of people who provide national service with that of civil servants. For graduates for instance is 3,000 nafka ($ 200) as the first pay and then increases. Now the government is finalizing other levels of remuneration.”
In view of the meagre resources of the country, one of the poorest in the world, the minister was keen to point out how his government “will not abandon anyone on the street, offering everyone a job” even to those who do not continue their studies after graduation, thanks to “vocational training centers”.
“The number of Eritrean migrants is decreasing, because they are having jobs and higher salaries and are assigned in the area where they are trained. All the young people will work,” he promised, but it is undeniable that if it the industrial sector were “rehabilitated, as we said to the Germans, it would solve the problem of employment.”