Obama opposes Egypt’s plan to launch massive military attack against ISIS in Libya Post a reply by Deneke » Yesterday, 08:15

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Egypt is getting ready to launch a large air and ground attack against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in eastern Libya DebkaFile reports, quoting military and intelligence sources.

The Obama administration is reportedly opposed to the operation.

“Egypt is massing large-scale ground and air forces in the Western Desert along the Libyan border, in preparation for a military campaign to capture eastern Libya — Cyrenaica — from the Islamist State of Syria and Iraq — ISIS — occupation,” reports DebkaFile.

“The substantial naval and marine forces assembling at Egypt’s Mediterranean ports indicate the possible launching of the offensive by dropping Egyptian marines on the Libyan coast around Derna (pop: 100,000), which ISIS has made its provincial capital,” it added. “They may be accompanied by simultaneous landings of paratroops from the air.”

Some officials have warned that ISIS may use Libya to launch attacks against Europe.

The DebkaFile report notes that the Obama administration is against a direct invasion of Libya by Egypt, but would support Cairo taking action through local Libyan militias.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi was not convinced by CIA Director John Brennan who related Obama’s position on April 19.

“President El-Sisi was not surprised to hear from the CIA director that the Obama administration objects to a direct Egyptian invasion of Libya, but would not oppose Cairo acting through local Libyan militias,” said DebkaFile.

“Brennan leaned hard on the Egyptian president to follow Washington’s line, but El-Sisi refused,” it added later.

President El-Sisi did tell the CIA director that he does not plan to keep the Egyptian army in Libya. He is planning to pull his troops out after the jihadists are defeated. Ultimately, El-Sisi said he would hand power back to the elected Libyan government.

ISIS’ presence in eastern Libya and Sinai poses an unacceptable threat to El-Sisi’s country, noted the report.

“He has been warned in a number of intelligence reports that the Islamic State’s terrorists have already penetrated some Egyptian towns and even infiltrated certain army units,” it said.

ISIS is reportedly beefing up its presence in eastern Libya with reinforcements from Syria and Iraq to counter Egypt’s planned assault.

“From Syria, they are traveling by air or sea through the Mediterranean; from Iraq, through the Sinai Peninsula, whence oil and drug rings smuggle them across the Suez Canal and Egypt,” said DebkaFile.

Libya has been engulfed in unrest since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and executed in 2011 with the support of the Obama administration. Various tribes, militias, and political groups are competing for power in Libya.

The country has been split by two warring factions. One is led by the elected government operating out of Tobruk and the other by militias in Tripoli.

The Obama administration and other Western nations have been reluctant to intervene.

Egypt, without the support of the U.S., launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya after the jihadist group beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians.

93 militants arrested in anti-terror sweep, says MOI

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Migrants’ hay-bale truck journey ends in the Libyan desert

Before they make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean trying to get to Europe, tens of thousands of African migrants are herded through the desert to Libya.

They are robbed and abused by militia and people smugglers.

At a checkpoint outside Misrata, border guards search trucks for migrants.

Quentin Sommerville was there to watch some of them being freed by border guards in Misrata after 48 hours crossing the desert without food and water in a hay-bale truck.

by BBC NEWS

In this photo released by Greek Defense Ministry on April 27, 2015,

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, left, awards Army Sgt. Antonis Deligiorgis, the Cross of Excellency for his role in rescuing passengers on a ship carrying migrants on the island of Rhodes, at a ceremony in Athens on April 27, 2015. Deligiogis was photographed assisting Eritrean asylum seeker Wegasi Nebiat, in an image that was on front pages of leading world newspapers the following day. Three people died in the shipwreck, while 90 others from Syria and Eritrea were rescued. (Greek Defense Ministry via AP)

In this photo released by Greek Defense Ministry on April 27, 2015, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, left, awards Army Sgt. Antonis Deligiorgis, the Cross of Excellency for his role in rescuing passengers on a ship carrying migrants on the island of Rhodes, at a ceremony in Athens on April 27, 2015. Deligiogis was photographed assisting Eritrean asylum seeker Wegasi Nebiat, in an image that was on front pages of leading world newspapers the following day. Three people died in the shipwreck, while 90 others from Syria and Eritrea were rescued. (Greek Defense Ministry via AP)

Pastor Gebremichael Yohannes, a Dutiful Shepherd | Assenna.com Pastor Gebremichael Yohannes, a Dutiful Shepherd By assenna on April 26, 2015

Pastor Gebremichael Yohannes 1

Sunday is church day in the City of Atlanta, where smartly dressed men sit erectly on the right side of the hall while the women, equally dressed in sharp traditional attire, grace the left side of the same auditorium. The church is festooned with all kinds of paintings, memorabilia and religious artifacts, which help lend this packed place of worship a serene aura for reflection.

On this particular Sunday, it was raining heavy, forcing motorists to drive gingerly, though bad weather did not seem to have impacted church attendance. The location of the church itself is not conducive, as it is quite a distance from where most of the worshipers live. Not surprisingly, that did not seem to have hindered attendance either, for the place was filled to the rafters–a common occurrence every Sunday.
Attending Atlanta’s church is like being in your favorite classroom with an engaging teacher. And the city’s favorite teacher is Pastor Gebremichael Yohannes, a member of a new generation of Eritrean preachers of various denominations, who have assumed leadership positions in their respective communities and, like dutiful shepherds, are diligently looking after the welfare of their flock.
“We have perhaps the lowest divorce rate in the country,” Emanuel Berhane Muhtsun, one of the city’s active members, proudly told this reporter. “If a [married] couple are having any problems, the pastor will find a way to bring them together.”
Equally important for his congregation is that Pastor Gebremichael made a clear break with the regime in Eritrea, which he–like many other religious leaders across the world–believes has been a colossal failure.
Serving a population of diverse backgrounds, leaders like the pastor are serving as counsellors and healers in their respective communities, assuming many of the duties

 

ዕለታዊ ምጽናትና ከኸትም ካብ እናሰማዕና ምጽቃጥ ንበራበር!!! By assenna on April 27, 2015

ዕለታዊ ምጽናትና ከኸትም ካብ እናሰማዕና ምጽቃጥ ንበራበር!!! | Assenna.com

Ogbai_1

ዕለታዊ ምጽናትና ከኸትም
ካብ እናሰማዕና ምጽቃጥ ንበራበር!!!
ብ ዑቕባይ ገብረመድህን
ከምብሪጅ፡ ማሳቹሰትስ፡ ሰ.ኣ.
ሚያዝያ (April) 26፡ 2015
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ቅድሚ ላምፓዱሳን ድሕሪኡን ኣብ ባሕርን ምድራ በዳን፡ ምስጋር ሩባታትን ዝጠፍኡ ዘይተኣወየሎም ዜጋታትና ልዕሊ ዓሰርተታት ኣሽሓት ከም ዝገማገም ዘየጠራጥር ኣብ ርእሲ ምዃኑ፡ እንደገና ካልኣይ ደግሲ ጥፍኣት ላምፓዱሳ ናይ 350 ኤርትራዊ ሕይወት ብሓንሳብ ኪቕዘፉና ከለዉ ነእምሮ ዘደንዝዝ፡ ንንብዓት ዘንቅጽ ኩነታት`ዩ።ንበዓል ሓዊ ተኵሶ ከም ዝበሃል፡ መሰነይታ ቅዝፈታት ምድረበዳን ባሕርን ባርባራዊ ምስያፍ ISIS ተወሲኽዎ። እቶም ዝሓሊ ህዝብን ሰላማዊ ሰልፊ ዝፈቅድ መንግስትን ዘሎዎ ግዳያት ISIS ንድሕነት ኣብ ስደት ዝርከቡ ህዝቦም ተላዒሎም ንመንግስቲ ስጉምቲ ኪውስድ ዘነቓንቖ ማዕበል ድምጺ ደርጒሖሙሉ፤ ጠለብ ህዝቢ ካብ ብህጹጽ ምትግባር ካልእ ኣማራጺ ኣይነበሮን። ብኣንጻሩ፡ ካብ ፋሺስታዊ ስርዓት ህግደፍ ኪሃድሙ ሃገሮም ኣዝኽቲሞም ዝዘኽተሙ ተካላት ኤርትራውያን ዜጋታት ግን ዝሕለቐሎም መንግስትን ህዝብን የብሎምን፣ ወዲ ዓሻስ ክልተ ግዜ ይውቃዕ ኮይኑ። እቲ ጠንቂ ዕንወትን ድሕረትን ሃገርን ምጽናት ህዝብን ኤርትራ ኮይኑ ዘሎ ፋሺስታዊ ውልቀምልኪ ንዝጠፍኡ ኤርትራውያን ከም ጥፍኣት ላምፓዱሳ ሓቅነቱ ኪኽሕድ ኣየሕፈሮን፣ ብውድብ ሕቡራት ሃገራት ንዝተዋህበ ቍጽሪ ግዳያት ከይሓፈረ ካበይ ኣምጺእኩሞ ክብል ድኣ ተሰምዐ።
ነዚ ዕለታዊ ኣእላፋዊ ምጽናት ንጹሃት ዜጋታት ብጭብጢ ንምግላጽ ዘኽእል ቃላት ኪርከቦ ይከኣል ድዩ? ነዚ ሕቶ`ዚ መሰረታዊ ጠንቁ ብዕምቈት ዳህሲስካ ንምርዳእን ቅኑዕ ነባሪ ፍታሕ ኣብ ምምጻእ ብግብሪ ንምዕጣቕን ኣብ ቀጻሊ ምኣዲ ዘተና ሒዝናዮ ዘለና ኣርእስቲ`ዩ።
ዝኾነ ኾይኑ፡ እቲ ጠንቂ ብግዜን ብዓቐንን ኣዚዩ ርሑቕ፡ ኣብ ሃገራዊ ሕይወትና ምሉእ ስነ-ኣእምሮኣዊ ጥዕና ንምርግጋጽ ንኣረኣእያናን ስምዒትናን ብመርማሪ ኣገባብ ክንግዘቦ እንግደደሉ ኩነታት`ዩ ኣብ ቅድሜና ተገቲሩ ዘሎ። ካብ ጸቢብ ርእሰ-ፍትወት ፍርሃት፣ ካብ ፍርሃት እንታይ ገዲሱኒ ከም ልምዲ ሳዕሪሩ፡ ባህሪያዊ ሕይወት ጠፊኡ፡ ሓሳርን መከራን፡ ማእሰርትን ምህመናን፡ ጥፍኣትን ሞትን ልሙድ ሕይወት ኮይኑሉ ዘሎ ብሕልፈታት ዝልለ ኤርትራዊ እዋን ኢና ንሓልፎ ዘለና። እዚ ኣብ ዓለም ኰሊልካ ካልኣይ ዘይርከቦ ፍጹም ጸልማትን ጥፍኣትን ኤርትራ (ኣብዚ ሳልስቲ ኣብ NPR ሓደ ዝርርብ ዝገብር ዝነበረ ኣመሪካዊ `ኤርትራ ናይ መግቢ ውሕስነት ኣረጋጊጻላ` ክብል ዘደንጹ ዘረባ ሰሚዐ ናይ መወዳእታ ደቒቕ ኮይና ምስ ሓደ ዕዉት ኤርትራዊ ተወሳኺ መልሲ ክህበሉ ዘይከኣልኩ፡ ህግደፍ ድኣ ከመይሉ`ዩ መዓልታዊ ንኣመሪካ ዘማርር ዝብል ሕቶ ነእምሮይ ሰንጢቑዎ ሓሊፉ) ፋሺስታዊ ውልቀመላኺ ኢሳያስ መለኮታዊ ሓይሊ ሃሊዩዎ
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ዘይኮነ ብርእሰ ፍትወትና፡ ብእንታይ ገዲሱኒ፡ ብትም ምባልና ዘረከብናዮ ህዝባዊ ሓይሊ`ዩ ዝረግጸናን ዘጥፍኣናን ዘሎ። ውልቀመላኺ ኢሳያስ ርእሰ-ምትእማን ዘይውንን፡ ብምጕብባዕ ዝነብር ውስጠ ሃጓፍ፡ ክሳብ ዝደሉ ምሕንካስ ናይ ዝብኢ ባህሪ ዘጥረየ፡ ብመርዚ ግብረ እኪት ዝዓበየ ዘርኢ መርገም ኤርትራ`ዩ። ነዚ ሓቅዚ ተረዲእና ነዚ ብውስጠ ፍርሃት ዝተናወጸ ኣምሰሉ መሬትና ገዲፍናሉ ኣብ ክንዲ ንጸንት፡ ነዚ ዘርኢ ክርዳድ መንድዓት ሃገር ብህዝባዊ ቅልጽም ደርቢና ዓድናን ክብረትናን ክንመልስ እዋኑ ኣዚዩ ሓሊ`ፉናሎ። እቲ ዘማህምነና ዘሎ ትርጉም ኣልቦ ድንቍርና ጸቢብ ፍልልያትን ትምን ነቒሕና ብሓድነት ንግብሪ እንተ ዘይተባራቢርናሉ ግን እታ ጽዋእ ጥፍኣት ጽባሕ`ውን ምሳና ክትህሉ`ያ። ለውጢ እናደለና ለውጢ ካብ ምዃን ምሕንጋድና፡ ከምቲ ዘይዘርኦ ምህርቲ ኪሓፍስ ዚጽበ ሓረስታይ ኣብ ባዶ ሕልሚ ንነብር ኣለና ማለት`ዩ። ርእስና ኣብ ሑጻ ካብ ምቕባር፡ ለውጢ ብግብሪ-ኣልቦ ባዶ ትምኒት ክመጸልና ብደውና ካብ ምሕላም ወጺእና ጸሓይና ክትበርቕ ንበራበር።
ኣብዚ ከም ኣብነት ክጠቕሶ ዝደሊ ዝምድና ተጐሮ ኣካልን ተጐሮ ኣተሓሳስባን`ዩ። ተጐሮ ኣካል፡ ንኣብነት ብዘይሳእኒ ዝረግጽ ኣእጋር፡ ንነዊ ግዜ እንተ ዘይተሓጺቡ ይትጕር`ዩ፣ ተጐሮ ኣብ ረርእሲ ዝተደራረበ ዳርጋ ኣካል ቆርበት ዝኾነ ርስሓት`ዩ። ነዚ ከተጽርዮ ቆርበት ዝቐልጥ ብዙሕ ምፍሕፋሕ የድልዮ። ብተመሳሳሊ፡ ብኹሉ ዓይነታት ናይ ጸቢብ ኣተሓሳስባን ኣረኣእያን ኣእምሮ ብተጐሮ ጸቢብን ድሑርን ፍልልያት ምስ ዚጥቃዕ፡ ብመርማሪ ኣገባብ እንተ ዘይተሓጺቡ፡ ተጐሮ ርእሰ-ፍትወትን፡ ፍርሃትን እንታይ ገዲሱንን ከም ልሙድ ተወሲዱ ኣብ ደልሃመት የንብር። እዚ ኸኣ ክብሪ ሓርነት ሕይወት ዝሰሓተ፡ ንጊልያነት ከም ንቡር-ሕይወት ዝወሰደ ርእሰ-ፍትወት ዝፈጥሮ ጸልማት ድንቍርና`ዩ።
ትብዓትን ጭካኔን – ክልቲኦም ተጻያት መለለይቲ ደቅሰብ ኢዮም፣ ስለዚ ክልቲኦም ኣብ ሓደ ሰብ ኪህልዉ ዝከኣል ኣይመስለንን። እቲ ምንታይ፡ ተባዕ ፍትሐኛ`ዪ፣ ንሰብ ኪብድል ኣይብገስን`ዩ፣ ርእሰ ምትእምማን ይውንን፡ መን ምዃኑ ከፍልጥ ኣይግደስን፣ ኣብ ርእሰ ምክልኻል ከኣ ድምብርጽ ኣይብሎን። ብኣንጻሩ፡ ጨካን ሰብ ርእሰ ምትእምማን የብሉን፣ ሕይወቱ ብመን ምዃኑ ናይ ምርኣይ ምስሉይነት ዝተገዝአ`ዩ። ጭካነ ውላድ ፍርሃት ከም ምዃና መጠን፡ ከይቀደሙኒ ክቕድም ባህሪያት ጨካን ሰብ`ዩ። ፈራህ ሰብ ተባዕ ኪመስል ኩሉ ግዜ ሰባት ይለክፍ፣ ይድህል፣ የነኣእስ፣ የጕባዕብዕ፣ደንዳኒ ስለ ዝኾነ፡ ንተባዕ ሰብ ጐሲዩዎ`ዩ ዝሓልፍ። ጨካን ሰብ ፍትሒ ኣይንታዩን`ዩ፡ ዓማጺ ባህሪያት መለለዪኡ`ዩ። ኪዕብልል ይደሊ፡ ህውከት ምፍጣር ደስታ ይህቦ።
እሞ እዚ ዳሕራይ ጠባይ ኣብ ኢሳያስ ዝረአ፡ ንከይሲነቱ ዝምስክርዶ ኣይኮነን? ኣየናይ`ዩ ዓብላሊ ብዘየገድስ፡ ኣብ ሕይወትና ሒዝናዮ ንጐዓዝ ጠባይ ገሊኡ መፋጥርትና ኪኸውን ይኽእል፡ ገሊኡ ኸኣ እንዓብየሉ ኩነታት ዘሕደረልና ጽልዋ ይኸውን። መተዓብይቲ ኢሳያስ ክገልጹዎ ከለዉ፡ ካብ ንእስነቱ ርኡይ እከይ ባህርያት ከም ዝነበሮ ይምስክሩ፣ ብተወሳኺ ትም ዝብል ጻቕጥ ምንባሩ`ውን ይንገረሉ። እቲ ኻልኣይ ጠባዩ እምበኣር ንምሉእ ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ከም ዘታለለ ኣብ ኣዕናዊ ግብራዊ ውጽኢቱ ንርእዮ ኣለና።
ስለዚ፡ ኣብዚ ክንርድኦ ዘለና ነገር፡ ከም ኢሳያስ ዝኣመሰሉ ሰባት፡ ኣብ መጀመርያ ወስታኦም ተመሳሳሊ ግብረ መልሲ እንተ ዘይረኺቦም መሸደኒኦም`ዩ ዝኸውን። ንኣብነት እቲ ኢሳያስ መጀመርያ ኣብ ሜዳ ዝጸፍዖ ሰብ ናይ ርእሰ ምክልኻል ግብረ መልሲ ወሲዱ እንተ ዝነብር፡
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ኢሳያስ ካልኣይ ግዜ ኣእዳዉ ኣብ ልዕሊ ካልእ ሰብ ኣይምዓለባን። ብኻልእ ኣዘራርባ፡ ቀጻሊ ሕቡር ተቓውሞታት የጋጥሞ እንተ ዝነብር ኣብዚ በጺሑዎ ዘሎ ደረጃ ኣዕናውነት ኪበጽሕ ኣይምኸኣለን። ከምቲ እሾኽ ኣብ ውልዶኣ ኸላ እንተ ዘይተማሕያ፡ ምስ ተረረት ክትምሕዋ ኣጸጋሚ ስለ ዝኸውን፡ ምሳር ጌርካ ክትቆርጻ ጥራይ ኢዩ እቲ ኣማራጺ። ከምኡ`ውን ከምዚ ሎሚ ኢሳያስ ከይገበለ ኸሎ በቶም መሳርሕቱ ብእግኡ ተለሊዩ እንተ ዘይተኣለየ፡ ንሕጊ ኪግዛእ ቀይዲታት ተገይሩሉ እንተ ዝነብር፡ ሃገርና መንእሰያት ደቃ ኣብ ክንዲ ግዳያት ወፍሪ ባርነትን ስደትን፡ ጥፍኣትን ሞትን ኮይኖም ሎሚ ኣብ ክንዲ ናይ ሓዘን ሽምዓ ነብርሃሎም፡ ተማሂሮም ባዕላቶም ብርሃን ኮይኖም ኣብ ጕዕዞ ምዕባለን ሰላምን ሰሪዖማ ምሃዉ። ሕጂ`ውን ነዚ ዝተጠልመ ጸጋ ሓርነት ንምምላስ ከምቲ ኣሻዅ ቆጥቋጥ ኣብ ርእሲ ስርዓት ኢሳያስ እትውዕል በላዕ ምሳር ክንስሕል የድልየና ኣሎ። እዚ ድሕሪ ምግባር ግን ፡ ነባሪ ፍታሕ ምትካል ግዝኣተ ሕጊ ምዃኑ ንሓቲ ክልኢት እውን ክንዝንግዖ ከም ዘይግባእ ከነስተውዕሎ የድሊ።
ራህዋን ሰላምን ኣብ ትሕቲ ብርሃን ሓርነት ንህዝቢ ኤርትራ!
ዘለዓለማዊ ግብራዊ ዝኽሪ ንስዉኣትናን ግዳያት ግፍዕን!!

Eritrean migrant gives birth on Italian Navy ship   Published: 16 Dec 2014 11:35 GMT+01:00

Aloniab Nahom was born at around 2.00am this morning on board the Etna vessel, shortly after his mother was picked up in the Strait of Sicily.

Born to a Catholic Eritrean woman, the baby boy has already been baptized by the on-board chaplain.

“Mother and baby are doing well and will today go ashore at Lampedusa, on board a helicopter,” the Italian Navy said in a statement.

The “happy event” was the conclusion of an operation to save 430 boat migrants off the coast of Italy, the rescuers said.

Marina Militare

SEE ALSO: A year of Mare Nostrum: Italy’s ‘proud’ rescuers

The Italian Navy continues to save boat migrants from the grips of ruthless traffickers despite ending its dedicated “Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) operation in October. Around 160,000 migrants were saved in the 13-month mission, which has since been replaced by a significantly smaller EU operation.

More than 207,000 migrants and refugees have taken the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean so far this year. Of those, more than 34,500 have been Eritreans and over 60,000 Syrians, the UN refugee agency said last week.

Today’s birth is not the first to happen on board an Italian Navy ship. A baby girl was born in September to a Gambian woman, saved along with 600 others off Italy’s southern shore.

Eritrea’s climate of repression, violence and paranoia is prompting hundreds of people to flee every day BY SAM JONES, PATRICK KINGSLEY, AND MARK ANDERSON Published: Monday April 27, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM

 

Escaping oppression: An Eritrean refugee preparing a meal outside his shelter in the woods in Calais, France. Unbearable living conditions back home have triggered a growing exodus of Eritreans who hope to find a better life for themselves in Europe. Photo: Reuters

Escaping oppression: An Eritrean refugee preparing a meal outside his shelter in the woods in Calais, France. Unbearable living conditions back home have triggered a growing exodus of Eritreans who hope to find a better life for themselves in Europe. Photo: Reuters

‘If I die at sea, it’s not a problem – at least I won’t be tortured,’ says a Eritrean refugee.

LIKE many of her fellow Eritrean refugees, Sofia, who managed to escape northwards to Cairo, has a very simple reason for fleeing her homeland.

“In Eritrea you’re even afraid to talk to your family,” she says. “The person next to me in a cafe could be a spy, and they are looking at what you are doing. People disappear every day.”

One day, a friend made the innocent mistake of striking up a conversation with a man in a cafe who later turned out to be from the Libyan embassy. “They were just chatting. And they said she was a spy passing information to him. We don’t know what happened to her. She is in jail till now.

“One day they told us she was in hospital with high blood pressure but we were so afraid that we didn’t go because we feared they might arrest us, too.”

This, says Sofia, is the daily reality of life in Eritrea, whose citizens are second only to Syrians when it comes to risking dangerous crossings of the Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), nearly 37,000 Eritreans applied for asylum in 38 European countries over the first 10 months of last year, compared with about 13,000 in the same period in 2013. It puts the total Eritrean refugee population at more than 321,000.

The reasons for the exodus are not hard to fathom: last month, a UN inquiry accused the government of President Isaias Afewerki – who has ruled the east African country since its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 – of operating a system of “ruthless repression” and “pervasive state control”.

The chair of the inquiry, Mike Smith, noted a culture of “extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances and incommunicado detentions,” all aimed at silencing critics of the regime.

Given the climate of repression, violence and paranoia – and the indefinite national service – asked Smith, “Is it surprising that faced with such challenges, Eritreans leave their country in their hundreds every day?”

The Eritrean government responded to the inquiry by criticising its reporting methods. Tesfamicael Gerahtu, an Eritrean diplomat, said his delegation was dismayed at “the protracted reliance on unreliable, unproven and sensational information and interactions,” adding that “preconceived ideas and conclusions” about Eritrea had become rampant.

Others bitterly disagree. Elsa Chyrum, director of the Britain-based group Human Rights Concern – Eritrea, sums up her homeland in two words: open prison. “There’s no freedom of speech, no freedom of expression, no religious freedom,” she says.

“We have more than 300 prisons across the country and people there have no food to eat. Even begging is criminalised in Eritrea.”

But equally pernicious, says Chyrum, is the national service that sees 17-year-old students taken from their families and pressed into unending conscription. Some work up to 12 hours a day, six days a week; the less fortunate are sent to work in mines without basic protective equipment.

“Many children are brought up without their fathers because their fathers are tied up in conscription for life,” she says. “The whole family unit is completely broken. You see all the unaccompanied children leaving because they don’t want to have a miserable life like their fathers and brothers, so what do they do? They run away. Everybody is running away.”

Smugglers

Meron Estefanos, another Eritrean human rights activist, says those Eritreans with enough money are paying senior government officials up to US$5,000 (RM18,000) each to leave. Once over the border into Sudan, people smugglers take them by pick-up truck to Libya, where they look for boats to Europe.

Most hope to reach Sweden or Norway. Israel – where about 42,000 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals are believed to reside – recently announced that it would begin deporting asylum seekers from the two countries to other African nations.

“It’s absurd that Israel doesn’t recognise Eritreans as refugees,” says Estafanos. “They are deporting refugees to Rwanda, where they have no rights. They are being given letters that say they will be granted asylum and work permits in Rwanda and that it’s a great place to live. But as soon as they arrive in Rwanda their documents are being taken away and they have only one or two days before the same people who picked them up from the airport are smuggling the Eritreans out of Rwanda and into Uganda and then God knows what happens.”

But even those who, like Sofia, have made it as far as Cairo do not feel safe. Deportations have been recorded from Sudan and Egypt, meaning that in Cairo – where Eritreans are barred from the state education system and face few job prospects – refugees feel vulnerable.

Despite the risks of deportation, Sofia does not want to risk travelling to Europe by sea. She does, however, understand what drives her compatriots to climb aboard the crowded and dangerous vessels that ply their trade between Libya and the coast of Europe.

“If you want to register for resettlement with UNHCR, they give you an appointment for 2017,” she says. “And who can afford to wait that long? It’s better to go by boat. I have two choices – one is to die, the other is to live. If I die at sea, it won’t be a problem – at least I won’t be tortured.

“Here you don’t have a destiny – you don’t have education, no work, you can’t help your family. Every day you’re just asking for help. But if you go to Europe at least at some point in the future, you will have a nationality and you will be a human.’

Desperation

That desperation is echoed by Eritreans who are being held in a Tripoli detention centre after being intercepted at sea by Libyan coastguards.

“It is not our choice to penetrate the sea,” says Bayin Keflemekal, a 30-year-old nurse. “If we got some help from the Libyan government, from UNHCR, we would try something else. But if the government won’t help us, if UNHCR won’t help us, if no one can help us, then the only option is to go to the smugglers. We are suspended in the air.’

Chyrum hopes the deaths of at least 800 people who perished when their boat capsized off the coast of Libya two Sundays ago, will compel European leaders to rethink their approach to Eritrea. She is fiercely critical of the EU’s recent decision to try to halt the exodus of Eritreans by sending development aid to the country, arguing that the money will stay in the hands of the political elite.

Chyrum says the European funds would be better spent on helping the thousands of Eritreans already in southern Europe or expanding the EU’s Frontex border control agency.

If Europe is serious about reducing the flow of people from Eritrea, she says, it needs to use its political, diplomatic and financial influence to bring about change in Asmara.

“Unless the root cause is dealt with, people will keep taking risks,” she says. “A lot of pressure needs to be put on the government of Eritrea to stop the indefinite national service, to make life bearable for people and to allow them to live a free life. They have to release all the prisoners of conscience from prison and allow people to choose what they want to do in life.”

Unless tough action is taken against the Isaias regime, she says, the government will continue acting with impunity, and Eritreans will continue making the long trek north, and fishermen and coastguards will continue fishing bodies from European waters.

“It’s a one-person rule, but one person has destroyed the whole country,” says Chyrum. “The future of Eritrea is fleeing and drowning in the Mediterranean.” – Guardian News Service

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Greek hero highlights migrant crisis by pulling 20 people from the sea 6:33 AM Monday Apr 27, 2015

This image of Greek soldier Antonis Deligiorgis rescuing migrant Wegasi Nebiat defined a week of tragedy. Photo / Argiris Mantikos / AP

It was the image that defined a week of tragedy – and showed the world how Europe had failed to deal with its migrant problem.

A burly Greek man, bent double, pulling a migrant to safety as three others who had tried to make the crossing from North Africa to Greece on board the same rickety boat perished, turning the Mediterranean into a graveyard.

In all, hundreds of people died during a series of incidents as the world turned its gaze on Europe – and how nations and politicians had singularly failed to address the travesty of the refugees risking their lives in a bid to reach Europe.

And now the Greek soldier who singlehandedly saved 20 migrants who were washed up on the coast of Rhodes after the boat they were travelling in hit rocks has revealed the moment he leapt to save a woman.

One of those whom Antonis Deligiorgis saved was a 24-year-old Eritrean refugee, Wegasi Nebiat.

The woman’s parents had paid $10,000 for her passage to Europe, which began in the Eritrean capital, Asmara. She managed to travel to Khartoum, before flying to Istanbul on a fake passport and then took a boat from the Turkish city of Marmaris bound for Greece.

Her journey could have ended tragically when her vessel, packed with Syrians and Eritrean migrants, began to sink off the Zefyros beach on Thursday. But fortunately for Ms Nebiat, Mr Deligiorgis, 34, was in a cafe and saw the boat as it began to list.

“The boat disintegrated in a matter of minutes. It was as if it was made of paper,” he told the Observer.

“Without really giving it a second’s thought, I did what I had to do… I had taken off my shirt and was in the water.”

Within minutes of the boats crashing into rocks off the beach, coast guards officers, army recruits, fisherman and volunteers scrambled to help the refugees, many of whom clung to pieces of the wreckage.

“Everyone who saw what was happening just jumped in the water, without thinking of their own safety,” Stathis Samaras, a coast guard officer, said.

But of the 93 migrants who were aboard the boat, the Greek father-of-two, saved 20 of them himself.

“The water was full of oil from the boat and was very bitter and the rocks were slippery and very sharp. I cut myself quite badly on my hands and feet, but all I could think of was saving those poor people,” he explained.

Following her miraculous rescue, Ms Wegasi was taken to hospital with pneumonia and exhaustion.

She has since left hospital and travelled by ferry to Piraeus near Athens where she met with fellow Eritrean refugees.

“I am so happy. We are not sure what we will do but we hope to travel across Europe,” she told the Daily Mail.

“I don’t remember much. I was in the water and scared and then I was here. I feel lucky. I have family back at home and I am lucky that I made it,” she added.

While the majority of migrants from Africa and the Middle East come from Libya and land on Italian shores, the number of people arriving in Greece has almost doubled this year to more than 10,000. Over 1000 migrants have arrived in the last week alone.

So far this year, more than 1650 people will have died in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe.