The Rerouted Trafficking in Eritrean Refugees

by Dan Connell
published in MER268

When Sheikh Muhammad ‘Ali Hasan ‘Awad learned that nine kidnapped “Africans” -- eight Eritreans and one Ethiopian -- were being beaten, raped and starved in a compound in Sheikh Zuwayd, a Sinai village near the Israeli border, he wasted little time. Firing AK-47s in the air, the sheikh and his Bedouin posse burst in to free the victims and threaten their three torturers with death if they did not immediately tell all. The captors’ accounts -- and the raid itself -- were recorded in high-definition video with an iPad.

Refugees, Ransoms and Revolt

by Dan Connell
published in MER266

Filmon, a 28-year-old computer engineer, fled Eritrea in March 2012 to escape political repression. Several weeks later, he was kidnapped from Sudan’s Shagara refugee camp, taken with a truckload of others to a Bedouin outpost in the Sinai, not far from Egypt’s border with Israel, and ordered to call relatives to raise $3,500 for his release. “The beatings started the first day to make us pay faster,” he told me. [1]

Reverse the Exodus from Eritrea

by Dan Connell | published February 1, 2013

Last week, soldiers in one of Africa’s most closed and repressive nations -- Eritrea -- occupied the country’s Ministry of Information and issued demands. The pattern was a familiar one. News spread quickly that a coup was underway.

But feisty little Eritrea, which got its independence from Ethiopia in 1991 after defeating successive US- and Soviet-backed armies in a 30-year war, has never fit the mold of post-colonial African states, and it was not doing so now.

Escaping Eritrea

Why They Flee and What They Face

by Dan Connell
published in MER264

Said Ibrahim, 21, orphaned and blind, was making a living as a singer in Adi Quala bars when a member of Eritrea’s national security force claimed one of his songs had “political” content and detained him at the Adi Abieto prison. After a month Said was released, but he was stripped of his monthly disability payments for two years when he refused to identify the lyricist. “I went back to my village and reflected about it,” he told me over tea at an open-air café in the Adi Harush camp in northern Ethiopia. “If the system could do this to a blind orphan, something was very wrong.” After appealing to his neighbors for help, two boys, aged 10 and 11, sneaked him into Ethiopia and all three asked for asylum.

The Famine This Time

by Gayle Smith
published in MER166

Gayle Smith coordinates the Africa program at the Washington-based Development Group for Alternative Policies. In the past ten years she has worked extensively in the Horn of Africa on relief and development issues. Her most recent trip to Ethiopia and Sudan was in June 1990. She spoke with Joe Stork in Washington.

Compared to the famine of 1984-1985, what is the scope of the problem in the Horn today?

In terms of numbers, the famine is somewhat less severe than it was five years ago. There are an estimated 5 million in need as opposed to 7-9 million in 1984-1985. Just over 1 million of these people are in Eritrea; another 2.2 million live in Tigray. The rest live elsewhere in the north of Ethiopia, areas now also affected by the war.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Sovereignty and Intervention After the Cold War

Lessons from the Emergency Relief Desk

by John Prendergast , Mark Duffield
published in MER187

Over the past several years, the perception has become widespread that the world has entered a period of profound change. A main feature of this change has been some erosion of the principle of state sovereignty as a major structural feature of international relations. The new activism of the United Nations and the trend toward selective military intervention for humanitarian purposes and as a means of international crisis management have been the most prominent features of this development.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Against All Odds

by Basil Davidson
published in MER189

Dan Connell, Against All Odds: A Chronicle of the Eritrean Revolution (Red Sea, 1994).

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

From Alliance to the Brink of All-Out War

Explaining the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Crisis

by Dan Connell
published in MER208

In the arid, mountainous, north-eastern corner of Africa, two of the world&’s poorest but best armed states -- Eritrea and Ethiopia, allies until a short while ago -- are on the brink of all-out war. Shuttle diplomacy by a succession of would-be mediators has failed to provide an exit from potential catastrophe for both sides, though it has temporarily halted the fighting that wracked the area last spring. Since then, the two countries have mobilized hundreds of thousands of troops and a staggering arsenal of Cold War arms to do battle over less than 100 square miles of disputed scrub farmland and desert. Far more is at stake than a petty border dispute, however.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Shootout in the Horn of Africa

A View from Eritrea

by Dan Connell
published in MER210

A second round of fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia in February found the political positions of the former allies little changed from their opening salvos the previous June, but overwhelming Ethiopian numbers -- troops and arms -- finally forced the Eritreans to accept an American-backed “peace plan” on Ethiopian terms. Meanwhile, not only had the levels of firepower intensified, but also the stakes, in a bitter dispute that has already had a profound impact on regional alignments and development prospects. Tragically, it appears to be a repeat performance of earlier battles in the 30-year contest over Eritrea’s independence, which ended in 1991.

The Importance of Self-Reliance

NGOs and Democracy Building in Eritrea

by Dan Connell
published in MER214

Shortly before Eritrea's declaration of independence from Ethiopia in May 1993, members of the Eritrean security forces arrived on the doorstep of the Regional Center for Human Rights and Development (RCHRD) in downtown Asmara, the capital. The center's director knew precisely why they had come -- to shut down Eritrea's first postwar NGO.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.