Eritrea + 8 more

MMC East Africa and Yemen 4Mi Snapshot – May 2020: Profiles and drivers of Eritreans in mixed migration flows


Thousands of Eritreans are forced to flee Eritrea every year, many joining mixed migration flows and seeking asylum in East Africa and beyond. As this snapshot shows, many are driven to escape harsh conditions and conscription into military service. Men and women from 18 to 40 years old are required by law to undertake national service in Eritrea for 18 months, though it is widely reported that mandatory service is often indefinite and characterized by forced conscription and abusive situations. The need for this national service is pegged to ongoing hostilities with neighbouring Ethiopia. Despite initial optimism about a 2018 peace agreement and opening of the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia and indications of improvement of the situation in Eritrea, borders with Ethiopia are again closed and national service remains in place.
The snapshot shows that many Eritreans start their journey outside of Eritrea, some living as refugees, asylum seekers. Ethiopia is home to 172,750 Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers who, until recently, automatically received asylum. As of August 2019, 123,413 Eritreans refugees and asylum seekers were living in Sudan and 18,976 in Egypt (as of March 2020). In April 2020 the Ethiopian government announced that it would end this blanket protection for Eritreans. In March 2020 it was also announced that Ethiopia’s Hitsats refugee camp, home to more than 10,000 Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers was being been closed down by the government. These latest moves fuel uncertainty among the Eritrean population in East Africa, who often face high unemployment rates, lack of opportunities, and human rights violations.
Eritreans were the single largest group of migrants and refugees entering Italy by sea in 2015, but this number has drastically decreased. In the first quarter of 2020, only 56 Eritreans were reported arriving in Europe. Though arrival figures for Europe remain low,
Eritreans continue to travel north, and there are concerns that they remain trapped in Libya and across North Africa in increasingly dangerous situations. IOM reported that over 8,663 Eritreans were part of the ‘migrants’ present in Libya in December 2019. In addition, as of the end of March, there were 5,702 Eritreans registered as asylum seekers and refugees with UNHCR in Libya.