Inside Story

Why do Eritreans flee their country?

Thousands of Eritreans leave every year, with football players also ‘defecting’ while playing abroad.

Ever since independence from Ethiopia 26 years ago, Eritrea has been ruled by President Isaias Afwerki.

Opposition parties are banned and the judiciary is not independent, but the president has dismissed allegations made by rights groups that the country under his government is one of the world’s most tightly controlled.

Thousands of Eritreans leave every year to escape rights abuses, as well as enforced and lengthy military service.

Football players have also fled while playing abroad for the second time this year.

Seven went missing after their final game at a recent regional tournament in Uganda‘s capital Kampala.

Amnesty International has said Eritrea is dangerous for anyone showing political dissent or attempting to avoid national service.

Presenter: Sami Zeidan


Matt Bryden – Director, Sahan Research think-tank focusing on issues in the Horn of Africa

Daniel Mekonnen – Director of the Eritrean Law Society and former judge in Eritrea

Awol Allo – Senior lecturer in Law at Keele University in England