Eritrea. In January, Sudan opened the border with Eritrea after a year of tense relations between the two countries. Eritrea had previously been accused of supporting Sudanese rebels.
In March, Eritrea was put before the UN Human Rights Committee. Among other things, the Committee sought answers from 18 journalists and eleven opposition politicians and activists arrested in 2001, among them the Eritrean-Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak. But the question of their living received no answer.
Later in the month, the UN commission of inquiry demanded clarification on the fate of missing prisoners and requested an investigation into extrajudicial executions by security forces. It was also established that conscripts should not be used as forced labor in mines and construction. It is done without a time limit with no or very little salary.
The last open border crossing between Eritrea and Ethiopia was closed in April without explanation. Improved relations with Ethiopia in 2018 led to an open border for the first time in two decades, but then the border has been closed again.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of ERI in general and in geography as Eritrea in particular.
More than 30 Pentecostal friends were arrested in April at worship services in the capital Asmera. Pentecostal churches are banned in Eritrea and hundreds of members have been arrested in recent years. The government recognizes only four religious communities: Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran Christians, and Sunni Islam.
In June, more than 100 African writers, intellectuals and activists wrote an open letter to President Isaias Afwerki urging him to release imprisoned journalists and respect human rights. One of the signatories was Wole Soyinka, Nigerian Nobel Laureate in Literature.
The Catholic Church bishops expressed concern that the Eritreans lacked hope and that so many young people left the country. In a letter, “Peace to all”, the regime called for reform and justice. As a result, the church’s health clinics were seized and closed in June.
Security forces sent patients home, threatened staff and placed soldiers at the clinics. Those who did not hand over keys were seized, among them a nun. According to the church, thousands of people, mainly mothers and children in the countryside, lost their care. The bishops called for prayer and fasting in the conflict with the regime.
In July, security forces attacked a hospital run by Catholic nuns in Zager outside Asmera. The nuns were driven away and the equipment seized. There were, among other things, BB at the hospital.
The former Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, was excluded from the church in July, accused by the bishops of false teaching. Antonios, who criticized the regime, was deposed in 2006 and placed under house arrest. The exclusion was considered to be the regime’s work with the intention of taking full control of the church.
Human Rights Watch said in August that the system of military service indefinitely continued despite peace agreements with Ethiopia in 2018. Thousands of students are forced by the high school into military camps with hard work and poor food, and where some girls are subjected to sexual abuse. The only way to escape is to flee the country, but those who fail are arrested and imprisoned.
While 5 million live in the country, half a million Eritreans are estimated to live in exile. UN Refugee Agency UNHCR declared in August that the Shagarab refugee camp in eastern Sudan had difficulty caring for anyone fleeing from Eritrea. According to refugees, there was a shortage of food and water as well as roof over their heads.
In September, Christian and Muslim communities were forced to leave a total of seven schools under the regime’s control. There were schools with students mainly from poor families.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Eritrea in 2019 was 3,497,006, ranking number 133 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.280% yearly, and the population density was 34.6249 people per km2.