Eritrea

Background

The situation in Eritrea remains largely characterized by mass influx of persons departing from the country, restricted movement for citizens and the compulsory military conscription. Eritrea’s autocratic government, seeking to sustain military and political domination over its population with diverse backgrounds, religions and ideologies, continues to negatively affect the lives of Eritrean nationals.

In the post-independence era, Eritreans have found themselves increasingly challenged and restricted by an ever-declining economy, mandatory conscription into national military service with no clearly established start and end dates, and the complete absence of spaces for civil dissent and debate on the policies which affect their lives. The restrictions on movement leave Eritreans citizens vulnerable to trafficking and its related abuses.

The prevalence and risk of being subjected to sexual violence is rife, and women’s vulnerability continued, as the risk of irregular migration, further enables potential dehumanization, trafficking, kidnapping, enslavement, sexual violence and organ harvesting in first asylum countries such as Sudan and Libya, where besides being vulnerable as a refugee/ migrant with often limited understanding of refugee legislation and limited access to protection, health or economic support, Eritrean and Ethiopian women are subjected to the institutionalized subordination of women embedded in e.g. Sudanese legislation.

Our work with the Eritrean Diaspora

Eritrean school in Khartoum Sudan

Skills development and Integration for Eritrean Migrants and Refugee in Sudan Respectively our objective, SIHA initiated its project “Economically and Legally Empowering Ethiopian and Eritrean Migrants in Sudan and Improving living conditions” in Sudan. The activities focused on equipping Ethiopian and Eritrean women  and girls  with improved economic capacity through business skills and formation of informal cooperatives, in order to facilitate their integration.

Sub-granting Member organizations to economically empower Eritrean diaspora communities

Another project worth mentioning was carried out in collaboration with the Skills Development for the Eritrean Women for Development Association (EWDA), where SIHA provided EWDA with a grant to economically empower low-income Eritreans by training them in food service and hairdressing, as well as budgeting and saving for business growth.

Advocacy and challenging Human Rights Violations

SIHA is further regularly conducting advocacy work on regional and international level, including, to challenges human rights violations committed against Eritrean nationals.

Partner Organizations and Locations of Work

Due to the restrictive politics of the Eritrean government, direct engagement of civil society organizations remains highly limited. Without being able to operate within the country itself, SIHA works with diaspora communities in Sudan and Uganda and has conducted extensive research on human rights violations and trafficking of Eritreans.

Publications

  • “A chronic state of agony” Report to the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea. It provides insight on the current situation of Eritrean women, their struggle to survive under exceptionally harsh conditions, and their ongoing attempts to flee the state. The report discusses the disproportionate impact of the harsh conditions in Eritrea, along escape routes, in transit countries and within asylum countries to women and girls and makes very urgent recommendations for the Eritrean state, the International Human Rights Community, Asylum countries and the countries in the Horn of Africa region to act upon.
  • “Women in the Horn of Africa Are Still Bending their Heads”, is a series of reports to the 51st and 53rd Sessions of the ACHPR. Highlighting the situation of Eritrean refugee women, while migrating and their lives in the host states, as well as reflections of the current prevalence of violence against women in these regions.
  • “Letters from Eritrea”, stories of Eritrean women reflect grave violations of human rights in their country and beyond. Fleeing out of fear of persecution or from the horrors during national service, the stories of nine women tell of the great risks they are exposed to and their experiences with traffickers who dehumanize them in every possible way including kidnapping, enslaving, sexual violence and organ harvesting. The testimonies succeed in conveying harsh realities to face, and provide a personal insight into the struggles endured.

Download SIHA country profile Eritrea PDF