Original title “Eritrea and Ethiopia: Beyond the Impasse”
Jason Mosley, April 2014
- Opportunities exist for external efforts to foster improved relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia. This will involve questioning some of the underlying assumptions about their conflict and current regional dynamics. A fresh approach should involve engagement with each country individually, rather than immediate attempts to promote dialogue between them.
- The initial focus should be on promoting the conditions in each country for an eventual confident re-engagement with the other. It is important to avoid a narrow focus on the specifics of the border conflict, and post-conflict boundary demarcation, which has hitherto dominated external engagement.
- Economic incentives are central to enabling improved relations between the two states. However, the prospective economic benefits of re-opening the border will not be the initial catalyst for improved ties given that economic considerations were insufficient to prevent the war.
- International engagement on areas of mutual interest, especially on trade and investment, could go some way to fostering a sense in Eritrea of stable economic sovereignty in the face of Ethiopia’s economic and demographic predominance.
- Waiting for a change of leadership before making significant efforts to engage is untenable. There is no guarantee that subsequent leaders would adopt a significantly different foreign policy.
After the Eritrean independence war ended in 1991, Eritreans threw themselves into reconstructing the country’s shattered infrastructure, with whole villages helping out to build small dams, terrace-eroded hillsides, and plant thousands of trees. Photos by Dan Connell.
Once a revolution is over, how do you judge its success? A victory for Mao’s vision of the People’s Republic of China was not exactly a victory for the people of China. A glorious, clean revolution isn’t easy. Look at Russia, France, Cambodia, Iran. Look at Egypt today. In the coming decades, we will see the result of revolutions played out across the Arab world and, quite possibly, across Europe as well. Will they be deemed successes by anyone other than the victors?
A crucial, but little reported, example of a hard fought revolution and its troubling aftermath can be found in the Horn of Africa.
Twenty years ago, Eritrea—in the northeast of Africa—became a legally independent nation, having won its de-facto independence from Ethiopia two years earlier, in 1991. This independence was the end result of a 30-year war with Ethiopia. The revolutionaries who won the war were heroes, champions of freedom standing up against an oppressive, murderous Ethiopian regime backed by the Soviet Union and tacitly supported by the West. They had reestablished an independent Eritrean nation and the future looked bright. But revolutionary opposition and day-to-day power are two totally different things. Once you’ve gotten used to glorious victories, the thrills of red tape and responsibility may well be lost on you. As such, creating a free and democratic society is a total pain in the ass.
Eritrea had been an Italian colony since 1890, Ethiopia since 1935. After the Second World War, Eritrea became part of Ethiopia but maintained a measure of independence. In 1962, and in contravention of a UN resolution, Ethiopia annexed Eritrea. The UN and other world powers looked on, unwilling to jeopardize their relationship with the strategically-vital Ethiopia. As John Foster Dulles, who would go on to be the United States’ secretary of state, said in 1950, “From the standpoint of justice, the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless, the strategic interest of the United States in the Red Sea basin and considerations of security and world peace make it necessary that the country has to be linked with our ally, Ethiopia.” Eritrea had been screwed.
An EPLF member outside Asmara, 1979.
When Eritrea gained its independence in the early 1990s, it was the Marxist revolutionary group The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) that took power in Asmara, the nation’s capital, having fought a long and hard guerrilla war against Ethiopia. With their ruthless discipline, encouragement of abstinence and collective focus, the EPLF were—in the words of one leading Eritrean historian—“the most successful liberation movement in Africa.” They were tough, and while their intolerance of dissent galvanized their fighting potential, it merely made them tyrants once they were in power.
Led by Isaias Afewerki, they continued their flair for strong, Marxist-sounding names by becoming the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). And, with Isaias front and center, the PFDJ has remained in power ever since independence.
Today, criticism of the government is not tolerated. Only four religions are officially recognized. Worship in any other church and you’ll be persecuted. There is no civil society to speak of and, every month, kids cross the border to escape national service, which has no fixed end and is essentially a form of government-sponsored slavery. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates the number of fleeing Eritreans at 1,000 a month (it’s worth noting that escaping means going through the Sahara into mine-strewn Ethiopia while avoiding being shot by border guards). Reporters Without Borders ranks Eritrea 178th out of 178 in the world for press freedom, which basically means anything approaching journalism is banned.
A UN-supplied refugee camp near the border of Ethiopia, accommodating some of the thousands of Eritreans who flee across the border every year.
By 2012, hundreds of thousands of young Eritreans had fled the country to escape the deepening political repression and to avoid what had become open-ended national service in both the armed forces and state and party-controlled businesses. Three hundred refugees were showing up in Ethiopia each month and being placed in UN-supplied camps near the border.
In May, to coincide with Eritrea’s 20th anniversary celebrations, Amnesty International released a damning report entitled. The report claims that there are, at minimum, 10,000 prisoners being held illegally without trial in Eritrea. The human rights organization’s Eritrea researcher, Claire Beston, told me that this figure did not include those people jailed for “avoiding national service or trying to flee the country.” The report is littered with the testimony of people who have been affected by the actions of the government:
“I last saw my father at the beginning of 2007, they took him away from our house. I know nothing about what happened afterward.”
“This generation, everyone has gone through the prison at least once. Everyone I met in prison has been in prison two or three times.”
“Everybody has to confess what he’s done. They hit me so many times… Many people were getting disabled at that military camp. During the night they would take them to a remote area, tie them up, and beat them on their back.”
There are many more like this. It’s not exactly light summer reading.
The 1984 to ’85 African famine put Eritrea’s war for independence on hold as the liberation front trucked aid into the country to prevent both mass starvation and a wholesale exodus from the contested areas. Ethiopia sought to isolate the Eritreans using food as a weapon.
Tesfamichael Gerahtu, Eritrea’s ambassador to the UK and Ireland, told me that while Eritrea have “some challenges in human rights,” there “are no people incarcerated on the basis of their political beliefs.” The Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs released an angrily-worded response that rejected Amnesty’s “wild accusations.” The release concluded that Amnesty would ignore the 20th anniversary celebrations, “smug in its selfrighteous belief that it can, with impunity, attack and denigrate a young nation, which despite many odds, manages to progress and improve the lives of its citizens.”
Amnesty’s Claire Beston told me that Eritrea’s refusal to acknowledge its illegal detention of its own people was “incredibly disappointing for the families of those affected.” Additionally, she pointed out that Eritrea’s imprisonment of innocent people was in direct contravention with a number of international treaties it had signed up to. Drawing parallels with another country known for imprisoning innocent citizens, the human rights activist Khataza Gondwe has referred to Eritrea as “ .”
Eritrea, then, has not become the country many hoped for. “I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t believe that promises were betrayed,” Eritrean exile Gaim Kibreab—a university professor and author of Eritrea: A Dream Deferred—told me. Kibreab left Eritrea in 1976. For him, the actions of the current government “affect us all. I have relatives in Sudanese refugee camps. I have dear friends in prison in Eritrea.” The deferred dream of a free Eritrea was not just Kibreab’s, but one shared by many of his countrymen, though possibly not Isaias Afewerki and his revolutionary army.
Kibreab wishes for a pluralist democracy in which there is a free press and a flourishing civil society. But was this ever going to be a realistic proposition for a group of hardened guerrilla warriors at the end of a 30-year struggle? Decades of uninterrupted power is probably a closer approximation of Isaias’ dreams. He’s said to be full of contempt for humanity, to be a big drinker and a mean drunk. He’s a human rights violator and a petty thug who’s known to break bottles over people’s heads once he’s had a few.
As such, being boss probably suits him just fine. His former foreign minister, Petros Solomon, a key fighter and comrade in the revolution, was imprisoned in 2001 for speaking out against the government as part of the G-15 group of dissidents, who wrote an open letter to Isaias denouncing the lack of freedom in Eritrea. Solomon has not been heard from since his imprisonment.
Petros Solomon in an underground bunker in the frontline town of Nakfa, in 1979.
Some ex-revolutionary fighters and other defenders of the Eritrean government are scornful of exiled, “so-called intellectuals” like Gaim Kibreab. They believe that the people who now talk about human rights in Eritrea are hypocrites, people who didn’t fight and stand up for the violation of Eritrean human rights in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. There is still a significant amount of support for Isaias in the Eritrean diaspora. The Eritrean ambassador told me that “you must respect that we have had our human rights violated,” in relation to Ethiopia’s annexing of—and then war with—Eritrea, as well as the international support of Ethiopia.
Kibreab, in a way, agrees with him. He told me that when you talk about Eritrea, you have to talk about Ethiopia, which—secure in its importance strategically to the United States—has continued to run roughshod over Eritrea and, in doing so, has alienated Eritrea from the rest of the world. A world that now regards it as a small rogue state with a potential for Islamism, while viewing Ethiopia as a large, roguish, but vital state—a key ally in the “War on Terror.”
“The international community,” Kibreab pointed out, “has never been charitable to the Eritrean government. But if they moved towards liberal democracy, they’d help themselves.” However, this lack of support is worth remembering, particularly since it has been true ever since John Foster Dulles admitted that Eritrea was to be the victim in an international power game. Freedom from the machinations of foreign powers was one of the driving forces of the revolution. Now, still isolated, Isaias and his government continue to battle on, proudly proclaiming survival in the face of international contempt.
In 1998, the Eritreans went back to war with Ethiopia. The country’s youth were quickly mobilized to go back into the trenches.
The interminable military service, for example, makes some sense in the context of Ethiopian aggression. In 1998, the two countries went to war over a small portion of disputed territory surrounding the barren, rock-strewn town of Badme. The war, which lasted for over two years and resulted in the death of up to 100,000 soldiers, was described as “two bald men fighting over a comb.”
Since the end of the war, Ethiopia has failed to recognize an international court ruling that stipulates that Badme is part of Eritrea. Eritrean government officials have repeatedly told me that if Ethiopia recognized the boundary, they would be ready to make friends with their neighbors. Ethiopia funds many of the strands of opposition in Eritrea and, along with the United States, plays a crucial role in a paranoid narrative put forward by the Eritrean government: that Eritrea’s very existence is under constant threat from dark powers beyond its borders.
There is an element of truth to this, but of course Isaias and his government spin it out for all its worth. As far as propaganda goes, Ethiopia is Isaias’ greatest ally.
An EPLF member outside Asmara, 1979.
What I’m also talking about here, when I talk about Eritrea at 20 years, is the difference between the idealism of revolutionary opposition and the practical day-to-day reality of running a government. After years in the mountains fighting a guerrilla war, how was a revolutionary movement going to smoothly transition into power? Just like with the Taliban in Afghanistan, we’ve seen that life in grizzled, iconic opposition is perhaps not the best preparation for a calm, moral government. In opposition, those around Isaias let him do what needed to be done. There was a sense that he was “our bastard.” But, since then, the bastard has never stopped.
Ex-revolutionaries in Eritrea are often characterized as great drinkers, good talkers, and terrible diplomats. They grew up fighting in a revolutionary struggle, and the intricacies of international diplomacy were not for them. Paranoid and wary of showing weakness, they have punished innocent people for their own failings.
This is the sadness of all revolutionary dreams turned sour: the reality of freedom is never the same as the promise of freedom. It’s unlikely that when the EPLF were fighting for their country’s independence they looked up at that East African sky and thought: We dream that some day we will imprison people without trial, that our people will do anything they can to escape the country, that our youth will be locked into national service and that there will be no such thing as journalism.
Every generation reacts against the previous one, though. Isaias is getting old, and with the post-independence generation now 20 years old, the next few years could see some upheaval, hopefully for the better, in Eritrea.
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Watch – Ground Zero: Mali
May 3 marked the twentieth anniversary of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day. A day to celebrate press freedom around the world. Or the lack of it. Reporters Without Borders has released its annual report on world press freedom in 2013, which documents overall trends and has a region-by-region breakdown of key issues and developments. This year already, nineteen journalists have been killed and 174 imprisoned, and 9 citizen journalists have been killed and 162 imprisoned.
The Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders “reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations and netizens enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect and ensure respect for this freedom.”
According to Reporters Without Borders, following the Arab uprisings and “other protest movements that prompted many rises and falls in last year’s index [the] ranking of most countries is no longer attributable to dramatic political developments. This year’s index is a better reflection of the attitudes and intentions of governments towards media freedom in the medium or long term.”
Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, and Andorra are ranked as the countries that most respect media freedom, while Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria, and Somalia are the countries that least respect it.
EAST AFRICA STAGNATES NEAR BOTTOM OF THE INDEX, MALI NOSEDIVES
East Africa: journalists’ graveyard
In Somalia (175th, -11) 18 journalists were killed, caught up in bomb attacks or the direct targets of murder, making 2012 the deadliest in history for the country’s media. The Horn of Africa state was the second most dangerous country in the world for those working in news and information, behind Syria.
In Eritrea (in last place in the index for the sixth successive year), no journalists were killed but some were left to die, which amounts to the same thing. With at least 30 behind bars, it is Africa’s biggest prison for journalists. Of 11 incarcerated since 2001, 7 have died as a result of prison conditions or have killed themselves. Since the independent media were abolished more than 10 years ago, there are no independent Eritrean news outlets, other than outside the country, and terror prevails.
East Africa is also a region of censorship and crackdowns. Omar al-Bashir’s Sudan, where more newspapers were seized and the arrests of journalists continued during the summer, is stuck firmly in 170th place, in the bottom 10 of the index.
Djibouti (167th, -8), which has no independent media, detained a correspondent of the foreign-based news site La Voix de Djibouti. Despite the release of two Swedish journalists arrested in 2011, Ethiopia (137th) fell ten places because of its repressive application of the 2009 anti-terrorist law and the continued detention of several local journalists.
Political unrest in Mali and the Central African Republic
Mali (99th, -74), which was long presented as the continent’s star performer in democracy and press freedom, was prey to the political events that overtook it during the year. The military coup in Bamako on 22 March and the seizure of the north of the country by Touareg separatists and Islamic fundamentalists exposed news organizations to censorship and abuses. Many northern radio stations stopped broadcasting, while in the capital several Malian and foreign journalists were assaulted. All these occurred before the external military intervention in January 2013.
The Central African Republic was ranked 65th in 2012. Events after the outbreak of the Seleka rebellion at the very end of the year (radio stations ransacked, one journalist killed) were not taken into consideration in this index, thus preventing the country from falling more than 50 places. These will be included in the 2014 version. In Guinea-Bissau (92nd, -17) a media blackout and military censorship that followed the coup on 12 April explain that country’s drop.
Africa’s predatory censors
Yahya Jammeh, King Mswati III, Paul Kagame, and Teodoro Obiang Nguema, together with other heads of state such as Issaias Afeworki (Eritrea) and Ismael Omar Guelleh (Djibouti) are members of an exclusive club of authoritarian African leaders, some eccentric others stern, who hold their countries in an iron grasp and keep a firm grip on news and information. Their countries, respectively Gambia (152nd), Swaziland(155th), Rwanda (161st) and Equatorial Guinea (166th), are all among the bottom 30 in the index. Media pluralism has been whittled away and criticism of the head of state discouraged.
The biggest losses
Chad (121st, -18) saw journalists harassed and roughed up, the publication of the newspaper N’Djamena Bi-Hebdo temporarily halted and its publisher sentenced to a suspended prison term, and a highly repressive bill kept under wraps. The slow but sure progress that followed the formation of a national unity government in Zimbabwe (133rd, -16) in 2009 and the granting of publication licences to several independent newspapers appeared to have stalled. Violence and arrests of journalists still niggle and if elections go ahead as planned in 2013, the atmosphere for the media promises to be tense. Relatively high placed in 2011-2012,South Sudan (124th) fell 12 places after the murder of a columnist – the first killing of its kind in the new country – as news organizations and journalists awaited the approval of three new laws on the media.
Despite the holding of a national media conference in Cameroon (120th, -23), the future of the sector remains both uncertain and worrying. In the upper reaches of the index, Niger (43rd) nonetheless fell 14 places as a result of the irresponsibility of a few journalists who succumbed to the temptation to abuse the freedom that they enjoyed. Within the space of four months in Tanzania (70th, -36), one journalist was killed while he was covering a demonstration and another was found dead, a clear victim of murder.
Burundi (132nd) fell only two places but remains a low position. Summonses of journalists declined but the case of Hassan Ruvakuki, given a life sentence reduced to three years on appeal, has created an atmosphere of fear among the media.
Return to normality
After a dreadful year in 2011, marked by the dictatorial behaviour of the late President Bingu Wa Mutharika, a violent crackdown on demonstrations and the murder of the blogger Robert Chasowa, Malawi (75th) recorded the biggest jump in the entire index, up 71 places, close to the position it held in 2010. Similarly,Ivoiry Coast rose 63 places to 96th despite persistent problems. It had plummeted in the previous index because of a post-election crisis and the murders of a journalist and another media worker, as well as the civil conflict that broke out in Abidjan in April. Uganda (104th) was up 35 places thanks to a better year, but things were far from satisfactory as far as the media were concerned. The year ended with President Yoweri Museveni making open threats to several radio stations.
For Senegal (59th, +16), 2012 was a year of hope. The presidential election took place in a peaceful atmosphere for the media, despite a few regrettable assaults on journalists, and President Macky Sall, who had declared himself willing to decriminalize press offences, took office. Much remains to be proved in 2013, as was illustrated by the prison sentence handed down on a journalist in December.
In Liberia (97th, +13), the presidential election in November 2011 had been tainted by the closure of several media outlets and attacks on journalists. In 2012, the atmosphere improved greatly. In the summer, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the second African head of state, after Mahamadou Issoufou ofNiger, to sign the Declaration of Table Mountain, thereby undertaking to promote media freedom.
Namibia (19th), Cape Verde (25th) and Ghana (30th) maintained their record as the highest ranked African countries
Nearly two years
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According to Reporters Without Borders, with at “least 30 behind bars [Eritrea] is Africa’s biggest prison for journalists.” Following a widespread government crackdown in 2001, there are no independent news outlets in Eritrea. Of the eleven journalists who were imprisoned in 2001, seven have already died in prison or killed themselves. The government, led by the Information Minister Ali Abdu, uses intimidation and imprisonment to maintain control information.
2. North Korea
The North Korean government exercises direct and total control over the media in the country, which is tasked with glorifying the state and its former leader Kim Il-sung. Although independent North Korean radio stations exist in South Korea, thousands “of North Koreans have been detained for listening to a foreign radio station, making phone calls abroad or publicly questioning the sole political party.”
North Korea is also one of the hardest countries for foreign journalists to cover, with access and freedom of movement severely restricted.
Similar to North Korea, local media in Turkmenistan is “under total state control.” According to Reporters Without Borders, journalists are required to “cover the president’s “achievements” and “good works,” radio and TV stations and newspapers are scolded when they fail to show enough fervour and deference towards him, and are subjected to arbitrary appointments and dismissals.”
While the internet may offer some hope for change, access is severely restricted and “independent journalists have to operate clandestinely and risk arbitrary detention or even torture.” Journalists Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev, both held on fabricated charges, were only released earlier this year after seven years in prison.
While privately-owned media outlets have emerged in Syria, the state “has always maintained a stranglehold on news content,” through web censorship, harassment and abuse of journalists, media blackouts on dissent, and the arrest and expulsion of foreign reporters.
According to Reporters Without Borders, of all the countries on the list, Syria is the one which saw “most attacks on freedom of information.” It went on to say that reporters are being “targeted by all the parties to the conflict – the regular army and the various opposition factions – who are waging an information war.”
Already this year four journalists have been killed in Somalia, adding to the eighteen killed last year. Journalists in the country operate under the constant threat of arbitrary arrest and detention, surviving, in the words of one Somali reporter, only by living in a “state of paranoia constantly assessing and reassessing your surroundings.” Not only is the number of targeted assassinations is alarming, but some journalists have “ended up in jail even without publishing or airing a report.”
As we reflect on the severe restrictions that journalists in the above countries face, we must also remain critical of the state of the media in countries that are so often held up as beacons of freedom. While obviously not on the same scale as what is happening in Eritrea or Somalia, things such as the hacking scandal in Britain and the arrest of journalists covering the Occupy movement in the U.S. should also give us pause for thought.
Eritrea after controlling the Red cost and land locking Ethiopia, now is planning to control the Blue Nile Basin with the help of Egypt.
The Eritrean Government is acting as a plate form for Egypt’s historical plan to dominate the Nile, and be able to irrigate her arid southern farms in a dream of becoming a bread basket of Middle East.
Eritrea is known for its training and preparing proxy warriors in the Horn of Africa since here independence in 1993. Even the UN sanction did not intimidate the Red sea state. The living demonstration is Alshabab of Somalia. Isasias Afwerki is said to propose the preparation G7 for the proxy war with Addis Ababa for the control of the source of Blue Nile for Cairo.
In the recent meeting between the two regimes, Eritrea said to participate to realizing Egypt’s century old ancestral dream of controlling the Blue Nile River.
The plan was once crafted with the out sated Dictator Mubarak in his time in power inherited from Jamal Abdel Nasser. The Eritrean Junta to create a new Nile basin state in the horn of Africa as a main base for food for Eritrea under the hegemony of Egypt. This is to assure once for all the source of the Blue Nile to be under the pharaoh’s state control.
As we all know the Eritrean struggle was started and supported in 1960’s by the Nasser’s Egypt. This was done due to the the refusal of the Negus Haile Selassie to the Proposal of Egypt to create a Federation with Ethiopia and Sudan. A master plane to control the source and the flow of the Blue Nile discharging over 87% of the sweet life giving Water to Egypt and Sudan.
In the recent meeting, Eritrea proposed Egypt to use G7 (Genbot 7 Ethiopian Opposition in Eritrea) as a proxy agent to overthrow the regime in Addis Ababa and balkanize Ethiopia. The representative of G7 Mr. Andargachew Tsege was also present at the meeting according to our source in Eritrea. The meeting was held in the Egyptian Resort of the Red Sea. In consequence, in its recent news release the Isasias regime declared his support to Egypt to keep the Lion Share of the Nile according to 1929 and 1959 colonial pact,
Egypt has no other source of life giving water and the recent building of the Ethiopian new Renaissance mega dam of 145 Meter tall and 1KM 800M long with a reservoir of 63,000,000,000 m3 is expected to stop the follow the Blue Nile at list for 5 years. The mega dam has irritated the relation between Egypt and Ethiopia recently. The new Egyptian revolutionary regime wanted to assure by all means the survival of its over 80 million inhabitant.
As history is a living lesson, in 1900’s Egypt had made two unsuccessful wars with Ethiopia in Eritrea with the help of European and US confederated mercenary fighters to have full hegemony over the source the Blue Nile.
According to our sources form Eritrean January 21st mutineers, G7 have already getting the necessary instruction by the Nile state through Eritrea for destabilizing the regime in Addis Ababa.
The new Revolutionary regime in Egypt is said to playing carrot and stake in its new geostrategic plan for Africa. In one hand Dr. Mursi calling rapprochement with Nile basin countries, on the other he is working to destabilizing them to slow down the damming of the river Nile.
The Eritrean B. G. Teleke Keflay alias Menjus is seen escorting Egyptian security forces close to Sawa in the Northern part of Eritrea. They were seen arriving on northern Eritrean Red Sea cost.
The Eritrean regime strategy is following the foot step of Egypt proposing peace with Ethiopia one hand and preparing war on the the other. Thus the long neglected Eritrea would revive financially and Geo strategically in the region.
Sources EPPF from Asmara
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Dec 21[MEDIA not found]
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- Ethiopia, Kenya decided to takeover Somalia
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- Ethiopia: Stronger America Needs Stronger Ethiopia- allAfrica.com:
- 2012 Mayan Doomsday Countdown: End of Mayan Calendar Meant New Beginnings, Not the Opposite – International Business Times
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The Main head for such enterprise is Col. Fessum who supposedly heads the Ethiopian opposition movements in in the western areas is the key ally of the Bedouins for such highly lucrative body part market in the Arab world. Every week of thousands of Eritreans are sold to the Bedouin tribes known as Rashid’s dispersed in Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt and Arabian Peninsula. They are known as nomadic businessman. They sell anything starting from petrol, foodstuff, electronic, car spare parts and arms. This is the most lucrative Human trafficking chain in the horn of Africa. The Col. used to travel to Dubai and other bushiness centers to touch his share of the human parts trafficking in Eritrea with different passports having different names.
In its Ten Most Censored Countries, the CPJ puts Eritrea the worst of the worst , North Korea, Syria, and Iran .
Eritrea, a tiny African land of just over five million wedged between Ethiopia, Sudan and the Red Sea is the number one culprit.
Though few people can find the place, lest have heard of it, Eritrea had fought a long and bloody war against Ethiopia before breaking free.
It’s capital Asmara used to be a pleasant place with Italianate architecture and optimism. Today Eritrea is a forgotten land; there is no freedom of expression. Only state-sanctioned media is permitted and foreign journalists are banned.
In such places newspapers often resemble poorly printed pennysaver-type publications with ubiquitous pictures of the local dictator greeting farmers, schoolchildren or soldiers.
Let us read the CPJ’s rapport as that follows:-
10 Most Censored Countries
CPJ’s new analysis identifies Eritrea, North Korea, Syria, Iran as worst
Shutting out international media and imposing dictatorial controls on domestic coverage, the Horn of Africa nation of Eritrea has emerged as the world’s most censored country, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found in its newly updated analysis of press restrictions around the globe. Following closely on CPJ’s 10 Most Censored Countries list are North Korea, Syria, and Iran—three nations where vast restrictions on information have enormous implications for geopolitical and nuclear stability.
No foreign reporters are granted access to Eritrea, and all domestic media are controlled by the government. Ministry of Information officials direct every detail of coverage: “Every time [a journalist] had to write a story, they arrange for interview subjects and tell you specific angles you have to write on,” an exiled Eritrean journalist told CPJ, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “We usually wrote lots about the president so that he’s always in the limelight.” So when President Isaias Afewerki dropped out of public view for a time last month, his citizens and the international community were left with only rumors about his well-being.
North Korea, which topped CPJ’s previous list of most censored countries, published in 2006, remains an extraordinarily secretive place with nearly all domestic news content supplied by the official Korean Central News Agency. As North Korea moved down a notch, to second on this year’s list, some tiny cracks have emerged: The Associated Press this year opened a bureau in the capital, Pyongyang, and a Japanese editor is working with a handful of volunteers to document daily life in North Korea and smuggle out the recordings. But issues with vast worldwide implications—including North Korea’s long-standing bid to build nuclear weapons and its new political power structure—remain hidden beneath severe censorship.
Censorship has intensified significantly In Syria and Iran in response to political unrest. Syria moved from ninth on CPJ’s 2006 list to third in this analysis; Iran, unranked in 2006, shot up to number four on CPJ’s new list. By barring international media from entering and reporting freely and by attacking its own citizen journalists, Syria has sought to impose a news media blackout on a year-long military crackdown that has roiled the international community. Iran has mixed high-technology techniques such as Web blocking with brute-force tactics such as mass imprisonment of journalists to control the flow of information and obfuscate details of its own nuclear program.
“The censorship of the media existed far before the revolution, but it has increased since because [President Bashar] al-Assad wants to convey a particular picture to the outside world that the regime is fighting off terrorists who are causing the unrest,” Eiad Shurbaji, a Syrian journalist who fled the country in January for fear of his life, told CPJ.” Another tenet of Syria’s propaganda was that minorities would be at risk without the regime, he said. “Media censorship played a huge role in keeping Assad in power.”
CPJ’s 10 Most Censored Countries, released to mark World Press Freedom Day, May 3, also includes, in order: Equatorial Guinea, where all media is controlled, directly or indirectly, by President Teodoro Obiang; Uzbekistan, where there is no independent press and journalists contributing to foreign outlets are subject to harassment and prosecution; Burma, where a series of reforms have not extended to rigid censorship laws; Saudi Arabia, which, like other Middle Eastern countries, has tightened restrictions in response to political unrest; Cuba, where the Communist Party controls all domestic media; and Belarus, where the most recent of many crackdowns by Aleksandr Lukashenko has sent the remnants of independent media underground.
In making its selections, CPJ closely considered six other countries that are heavily censored: Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, China, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. By exporting censorship techniques, China plays a particularly harmful role worldwide.
Among the list of 10 most censored, Saudi Arabia is a new entry. Cuba dropped from seventh in 2006 to ninth this year as authorities recently released more than 20 imprisoned journalists and a vibrant (though persecuted) community of independent bloggers has emerged. Burma has moved from second on CPJ’s previous list to seventh on this analysis because it, too, released a number of imprisoned journalists and informally loosened, at least temporarily, restrictions on reporting for locals and foreigners alike.
Burma’s military-backed government allowed foreign journalists into the country to cover a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December and a landmark by-election in April. “But between those two events, with limited exceptions, the government ignored visa requests from major international news organizations, making it impossible for them to visit the country unless they did so undercover as tourists. Also, visas to cover the April 1 election were valid for five days only, after which all officially approved foreign reporters had to leave en masse,” one Southeast Asia-based reporter for an international news outlet told CPJ. He spoke on condition of anonymity, in order not to jeopardize his ability to report from the country. As for local reporters in Burma, he said, “they are able to report on small domestic protests or rallies and photograph policemen without getting in trouble. They are also often posting articles directly to Facebook and other websites without clearing them with censors,” but they remain wary of the risks entailed in critical journalism.
The 10 most restricted countries employ a wide range of censorship techniques, from the sophisticated blocking of websites and satellite broadcasts by Iran to the oppressive regulatory systems of Saudi Arabia and Belarus; from the dominance of state media in North Korea and Cuba to the crude tactics of imprisonment and violence in Eritrea, Uzbekistan, and Syria.
One trait they have in common is some form of authoritarian rule. Their leaders are in power by dint of monarchy, family dynasty, coup d’état, rigged election, or some combination thereof. In Eritrea, President Afewerki was elected by the National Assembly in 1993, but has since managed to hold off elections and the implementation of a constitution, largely by imprisoning critics and obliterating the private press.
Indeed, disputed legitimacy of leadership is at the heart of censorship and media crackdowns in many places. Syria has long been a tightly controlled country, but last year, when regular demonstrations began to call for the ouster of Assad, foreign correspondents were restricted and locals who reported on the uprisings were arrested; the dangerous task of reporting on Assad’s brutal military response was left to courageous citizen journalists and foreign reporters who sneaked into the country. Iran became vastly more repressive after the disputed 2009 election returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Tehran—which once withheld subsidies and issued short prison sentences to keep critical journalists quiet—now closes news outlets, expels foreign media, imprisons dozens on lengthy terms, and seizes property. Saudi authorities—growing wary as regional uprisings ousted leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya—added further restrictions in 2011 to the country’s media law, imposed new regulations on Web publications, and banned at least three columnists who had written about the region’s political unrest.
Lagging economic development is another notable trend among heavily censored nations. Of the 10 most censored countries, all but two have per capita income around half, or well below half, of global per capita income, according to World Bank figures for 2010, the most recent available. The two exceptions are Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea, where oil revenues lead to much higher per capita income than the global level. But both of those countries are beset by vast economic inequities between leaders and citizens.
To determine this list, CPJ staff judged all countries according to 15 benchmarks. They included blocking of websites; restrictions on electronic recording and dissemination; the absence of privately owned or independent media; restrictions on journalist movements; license requirements to conduct journalism; security service monitoring of journalists; jamming of foreign broadcasts; blocking of foreign correspondents. All of the countries on the list met at least 10 benchmarks.
For this list, CPJ considered only countries where restrictions are imposed directly by the state. In Somalia and vast sections of Mexico, journalists practice extensive self-censorship in the face of extralegal violence.
Leadership: President Isaias Afewerki, in power since 1993
How Censorship Works: Only state news media are allowed to operate in Eritrea, and they do so under the complete direction of Information Minister Ali Abdu. Journalists are conscripted into their work and enjoy no editorial freedom; they are handed instructionson how to cover events. Journalists suspected of sending information outside the country are thrown into prison without charge or trial and held for extended periods of time without access to family or a lawyer. The government expelled the last accredited foreign correspondent in 2007. All Internet service providers are required to connect to the World Wide Web through government-operated EriTel. While Eritrea’s journalists in exile run many websites, Internet access is affordable for only a handful of citizens, and mobile Internet isn’t available.
Lowlight: In 2011, Eritrea planned to introduce mobile Internet capability, which is popular throughout the developing world, where cellular towers are often built before Internet or land lines. But the government, fearful of the effect of the Arab Spring uprisings, abandoned the plan.
Click here for more on Eritrea.
2. North Korea
Leadership: Kim Jong Un, who took over when his father Kim Jong Il died in December 2011. His grandfather, Kim Il Sung, ruled North Korea from 1948 until his death in 1994.
How Censorship Works: Nearly all the content of North Korea’s 12 main newspapers, 20 periodicals, and broadcasters comes from the official Korean Central News Agency and focuses on the political leadership’s statements and supposed activities. Ruling elites have access to the World Wide Web, but the public is limited to a heavily monitored and censored network with no connections to the outside world. While The Associated Press opened a Pyongyang bureau in January 2012 staffed with North Koreans, the AP wasn’t granted its own Internet connection and the correspondents have no secure line of communication. A Japan-based media support group, Asiapress, has been giving North Korean volunteers journalism training and video cameras to record daily life in the North. Downloaded onto DVDs or memory sticks, the images are smuggled across the porous border with China and then sent to Japan for broader distribution. Only small numbers of foreign journalists are generally allowed limited access to the country each year, and they must be accompanied everywhere by minders.
Lowlight: KCNA’s official version of Kim Jong Il’s death said he died on December 19, 2011, of heart failure while traveling by train because of a “great mental and physical strain” during a “high-intensity field inspection.” Subsequent analysis of official pronouncements indicates that, wherever he was, Kim most likely died on December 17, and the news was delayed to allow officials to sort out problems of succession.
Click here for more on North Korea.
Leadership: President Bashar al-Assad, who took over upon his father’s death in 2000
How Censorship Works: Since demonstrators began calling for Assad’s ouster in March 2011, the regime has imposed a blackout on independent news coverage, barring foreign reporters from entering and reporting freely, and detaining and attacking local journalists who try to cover protests. Numerous journalists have gone missing or been detained without charge, and many said they were tortured in custody. International media have relied heavily on footage shot by citizen journalists in very dangerous conditions. At least nine journalists have been killed on duty since November 2011, six in circumstances in which government culpability is suspected. In its campaign to silence media coverage, the government disabled mobile phones, landlines, electricity, and the Internet. Authorities have routinely extracted passwords of social media sites from journalists through beatings and torture. The pro-government online group the Syrian Electronic Army has frequently hacked websites to post pro-regime material, and the government has been implicated in malware attacks targeted at those reporting on the crisis.
Lowlight: Ferzat Jarban was the first journalist killed for his work in Syria since CPJ began documenting deaths two decades ago. A local videographer documenting protests and the government’s violent crackdown in his hometown of Al-Qusayr in Homs, his footage showed shocking images of dead women and children. Jarban was last seen being arrested before his body turned up bearing signs of mutilation, with one eye gouged out.
Click here for more on Syria.
Leadership: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been supreme leader since 1989. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad first won the presidency in 2005.
How Censorship Works: The government uses mass imprisonment of journalists as a means of silencing dissent and quashing critical news coverage. Since 2009, a once-robust reformist media has been battered by a government onslaught that has included the banning of publications and the mass arrests and imprisonments of journalists on antistate charges. Imprisoned journalists are subject to horrible conditions including solitary confinement, physical abuse, and torture; families of journalists are also intimidated and harassed in a bid to keep them silent. Iranian authorities maintain one of the world’s toughest Internet censorship regimes, blocking millions of websites, including news and social networking sites; using sophisticated techniques to detect interference with anti-censorship programs; and intimidating reporters via social networks. The regime also frequently jams satellite signals, particularly that of the BBC Persian-language service.
Lowlight: The regime has particularly targeted the BBC, especially since the 2009 disputed presidential elections, when the BBC Persian-language service extensively covered protesters describing abuse by security forces. Relatives and friends of BBC staff members have been arrested, questioned, or intimidated. Tehran has jammed BBC satellite signals, and the broadcaster reported a “sophisticated cyber-attack” on its email and Internet services that coincided with efforts to jam its satellite feeds into Iran.
Click here for more on Iran.
5. Equatorial Guinea
Leadership: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in power since a 1979 coup
How Censorship Works: Obiang’s government tightly controls all news and information over national airwaves. Technically, some outlets are privately owned, but none are independent, as Obiang and his associates exert direct or indirect control. State mediado not provide international news coverage unless Obiang or another official travels abroad. Censors enforce rigid rules to ensure the regime is portrayed positively; journalists who don’t comply risk prison under criminal statutes including defamation. Security agents closely shadow foreign journalists and restrict photography or filming that documents poverty. The government paid three Washington-based public relations firms a total of US$1.2 million between April and October 2010 to produce positive news about Equatorial Guinea, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Lowlight: At the outbreak of the Arab Spring, the government banned state media from mentioning on air any of the North African or Middle Eastern countries involved. In March 2011, authorities detained and suspended a state radio announcer for a mere reference to a “leader of the Libyan revolution.”
Click here for more on Equatorial Guinea.
Leadership: President Islam Karimov, first elected in 1991
How Censorship Works: No independent media outlets are based in Uzbekistan. Independent journalists—mostly contributors to outlets outside the country—are subject to interrogation and prosecution under defamation charges or outdated statutes such as “insulting national traditions.” They and their families are harassed and smeared; some have seen sensitive personal information published by state media. MuhammadBekjanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov of the opposition newspaper Erk have been imprisonedlonger than any other jailed journalists in the world, CPJ research shows. Internet access to independent news websites and online broadcasters is blocked, as are some keywords and topics on individual Web pages. Foreign journalists are denied visas and accreditation.
Lowlight: Karimov’s own nephew, the critical independent journalist Dzhamshid Karimov, vanished in 2006 after visiting his mother in the hospital. His friends eventually discovered that he was being held against his will in a psychiatric clinic, where he remained captive until November 2011.
Click here for more on Uzbekistan.
Leadership: President Thein Sein, a former general who assumed office in 2011 after a 2010 election that heavily favored military-backed candidates
How Censorship Works: Although Burma has transitioned from military to civilian government, released journalists among hundreds of political prisoners, and promised more reforms, its vast censorship structure remains in place. All privately run news publications in Burma are forced to publish weekly rather than daily due to stifling prepublication censorship requirements. The government’s Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) censors news that could reflect poorly on the military or the government it backs, and imposes a complete blackout on reporting of the armed conflict with ethnic Kachin rebels in the remote north. The government dominates radio and television with a steady stream of propaganda. Laws bar the ownership of a computer without a license and ban the dissemination or posting of unauthorized materials over the Internet. Prison sentences have been used to punish reporters working for exile-run media groups. Regulations imposed in 2011 banned the use of flash drives and voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) communication in Internet cafés. Local reporters with international agencies are subject to constant police surveillance; others only publish under pseudonyms to prevent possible reprisals. Foreign reporters are regularly denied journalist visas unless the government aims to showcase a state-sponsored event. Those discovered reporting on tourism visas are expelled.
Lowlight: In February 2012, the PSRD banned a commentary written by journalist Ludu Sein Win about a media conference where Ministry of Information officials discussed a proposed new media law that would allow more press freedom—including an end to prepublication censorship. Sein Win wrote tongue-in-cheek that those who attended the conference were “helping to make the rope to hang themselves.” The banned article was later published by the exile-run Irrawaddy.
Click here for more on Burma.
8. Saudi Arabia
Leadership: King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who succeeded his half-brother, King Fahd, in 2005
How Censorship Works: The Saudi kingdom’s media law is highly restrictive and vaguely worded, with penalties severe and arbitrary. Authorities have the right to appoint and fire senior editors in traditional media at will; after the emergence of a vibrant, unregulated online news sector, they introduced similar restrictions on the Internet. Regulations require government registration and approval of editors for any organization or individual conducting “electronic journalism” or “displaying audio and visual material” on websites, while criteria for approval are vaguely defined. No foreign or local journalists are granted access to the Eastern Province, where protesters have been calling for political reforms and greater rights for the Shiite minority since February 2011. Local news websites that have reported on the unrest have been shut down and their editors arrested. Foreign news about events outside Saudi Arabia is available, but international news outlets operating inside its borders limit their reporting in order to maintain accreditation.
Lowlights: Saudi authorities expelled Riyadh-based Reuters correspondent Ulf Laessingin March 2011, angered by his coverage of political unrest. Laessing wrote: “State security agents knocked at dawn at my hotel room after I had covered Shiite protests in the Eastern Province. A week later, the government withdrew my accreditation.”
Click here for more on Saudi Arabia.
Leadership: President Raúl Castro, who took over from his brother, Fidel Castro, in 2008; the country has been a one-party communist state since Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution
How Censorship Works: All authorized domestic news media are controlled by the Communist Party, which recognizes freedom of the press only “in accordance with the goals of the socialist society.” Internet service providers are obliged to block objectionable content. Independent journalists and bloggers all work on websites that are hosted overseas and updated through embassies or costly hotel connections. Although the last of the 29 independent journalists imprisoned in the 2003 Black Spring crackdown was released in April 2011, the government continues to persecute critical journalists with arbitrary arrests, short-term detentions, beatings, surveillance, and smear campaigns on state media and on the Internet. Government supporters sometimes gather outside the homes of critical journalists to intimidate them. Officials grant visas to foreign journalists selectively.
Lowlight: Prominent critical blogger Yoani Sánchez was refused a visa to leave the country in February for the 19th time, she said. Sánchez has been targeted in the past with smear campaigns, cyber-attacks on her blog, and assault.
Click here for more on Cuba.
Leadership: President Aleksandr Lukashenko, in office since 1994
How Censorship Works: Lukashenko’s wide-ranging anti-press tactics have included politicized prosecution of journalists; imprisonments; travel bans against critical reporters; debilitating raids on independent newsrooms; wholesale confiscation of newspapers and seizure of reporting equipment; and failure to investigate the murdersof at least three journalists in the past 10 years. After the rigged election of 2010, hecracked down on what was left of the independent media, sending it underground. Working as a journalist without government-issued accreditation is prohibited; television is state-owned or state-controlled. In 2010, Lukashenko signed a law to censor the Internet, created an agency to implement the law, and placed his own son to head it. Shortly after it was created, the agency blacklisted independent and opposition websites. Public access to the Internet requires a government-issued ID, which allows the KGB to monitor users. At least one opposition website has been the target ofhacking attacks, including one in which a password obtained via malware was used to insert a false news story about an opposition politician.
Lowlight: Following the December 2010 presidential vote, Lukashenko imprisoned prominent independent journalists Irina Khalip and Natalya Radina on fabricated charges in retaliation for reporting on post-election protests. Khalip was later released from prison under heavy restrictions, while Radina was forced to flee Belarus to avoid a repeated incarceration.
Click here for more on Belarus.
These heavily censored countries nearly made CPJ’s list.
- Press freedom in Turkmenistan, which was among CPJ’s 10 Most Censored Countries in 2006, remains in dire condition. All media are government-controlled; editors are appointed by President Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov; and access to independent news websites is blocked.
- In China, some commercially-minded news media test boundaries while Internet users get around Web blocking. But authorities make extensive use of propaganda directives; impose travel and access bans; jam signals and censor international broadcasts; and intimidate critical journalists through job dismissals and imprisonment. Beijing is also a model for censorship regimes elsewhere and an exporter of censorship technology, including to several countries in CPJ’s top 10.
- In Ethiopia, censorship has become far more restrictive in recent years. The government of Meles Zenawi appoints managers of broadcasters and state newspapers and licenses all media. Anti-terrorism legislation criminalizes any reporting that the Ethiopian government deems favorable to opposition movements designated as terrorist.
- Government officials in Vietnam meet weekly with editors to give coverage instructions. Reporting on sensitive topics such as relations with China can result in arrest and imprisonment.
- Authorities in Sudan frequently confiscate newspapers, which are the widespread form of media. This year, security forces have increasingly adopted the technique of confiscating newspaper editions wholesale to inflict financial losses on publishers.
- In Azerbaijan, there are no foreign or independent broadcasters on the airwaves, and the few journalists who work on independent newspapers or websites are subject to intimidation tactics, including imprisonment on fabricated charges.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Burma section of this report has been corrected to reflect that President Thein Sein was elected in 2010, not in 2011.
The Wall Street Journal yearly indexes the outcome of the economic performance of each country globally. Eritrea truly started to be indexed starting 2009 the year the country start exploring gold. Here is the extrapolated and compared Eritrea with the rest of Ethiopia in performance graphically from this resource of Heritage Foundation.
Eritrea’s economic freedom score is 36.7, making its economy one of the least free in the 2011 Index. Its overall score is 1.4 points higher than last year, reflecting some improvements in its ratings for government spending, business freedom, and labor freedom. Eritrea is ranked 45th out of the 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.
Ethiopia’s economic freedom score is 50.5, making its economy the 144th freest in the 2011 Index. Its overall score is 0.7 point lower than last year, reflecting declines in four of the 10 economic freedoms that were partially offset by gains elsewhere. Ethiopia is ranked 30th out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is just below the regional average.
Eritreans have suffered substantial losses of economic freedom in recent years. Afflicted by poor economic management and structural problems that severely undermine private-sector development, the country lags in productivity growth and dynamism and, consequently, in economic growth as well. Long-standing structural problems include poor public finance management and underdeveloped legal and regulatory frameworks.
Poor governance and the lack of commitment to structural reforms continue to hamper economic freedom. Investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, and freedom from corruption are extraordinarily weak. Monetary stability remains fragile, and inflation is very high, largely reflecting excessive money creation to fund fiscal deficits. Arbitrary taxation, poor infrastructure, marginal enforcement of property rights, and weak rule of law have driven many people and enterprises into the informal sector.
TEN ECONOMIC FREEDOMS of Eritrea
|18.2||avg 64.3||0.0||avg 50.2|
|69.1||avg. 74.8||20.0||avg 48.5|
|73.0||avg. 76.3||10.0||avg 43.6|
|31.5||avg. 63.9||26.0||avg 40.5|
|46.0||avg. 73.4||73.4||avg 61.5|
Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia in 1993, but conflict soon resumed. A U.N. peacekeeping mission ended in 2008 because of Eritrean-imposed restrictions, and relations with Ethiopia remain tense. Eritrea has also ignored a U.N. resolution instructing it to remove troops from a disputed region on the border with Djibouti. President Isaias Afwerki has ruled without elections since 1993. Judicial independence is limited, and journalists and others have been held without trial for speaking against the government. Roughly th
ree-quarters of Eritreans depend on small-scale agriculture and fishing, and two-thirds of the population receives food aid. Productivity is very low, and the International Monetary Fund estimates that remittances from Eritreans living overseas were equivalent to 23 percent of GDP in 2007.
Existing regulations are severely outdated and not conducive to entrepreneurial activity. Procedures for establishing and running a business are opaque and costly.
Eritrea’s weighted average tariff rate was 5.4 percent in 2006. Import licensing for all private imports, inadequate infrastructure, inefficient and cumbersome customs administration, weak protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, corruption, and limited export activity delay trade and increase its costs. Twenty points were deducted from Eritrea’s trade freedom score to account for non-tariff barriers.
Inflation has been out of control, averaging 28.8 percent between 2007 and 2009. The government uses the military and party-owned businesses to implement its development agenda and strictly controls the use of foreign currency. Few private enterprises remain. The diversion of manpower and government funds away from peacetime economic activities is expected to continue. Twenty points were deducted from Eritrea’s monetary freedom score to account for extreme monetary-control measures.
Eritrea remains a strict command economy, eliminating most private investment. Large-scale projects must be approved by the appropriate minister or the Office of the President. The government has selectively and narrowly courted foreign investors to explore underexploited resources in mineral extraction, energy, fisheries, and tourism. Regulatory procedures are haphazard and irregularly enforced. Additional impediments to both domestic and foreign private investment include severe limits on the possession and exchange of foreign currency, lack of objective dispute settlement, difficulty in obtaining licenses, large-scale use of conscripted labor, and expropriation of private assets. Government influence makes the courts biased arbiters in legal disputes.
Eritrea’s financial system remains poorly developed, and government interference is significant. High credit costs and scarce access to financing severely impede private investment and economic growth. All banks are majority-owned by the state, and private-sector involvement in the financial system remains limited. The Commercial Bank of Eritrea, the largest commercial bank, is chartered by the government to provide a range of financial services to the public, but very high collateral requirements for loans prohibit many small entrepreneurs from establishing and expanding their businesses. The government has borrowed heavily from private banks, crowding out private-sector economic activity. Falling interest rates have destabilized banks and led to a further decline in financial intermediation.
The government strictly controls the political, social, and economic systems. The independence of the judiciary is limited. The government has a history of expropriating houses, businesses, and other private property without notice, explanation, or compensation. Arbitrary and complex regulatory requirements discourage investment from both foreign and domestic sources, and the government often reclaims successful private enterprises and property. In theory, women have the legal right to equal educational opportunities, equal pay for equal work, and equal property rights; in practice, men retain privileged access to education, employment, and control of economic resources, particularly in rural areas.
Ethiopia is indexed among 25 hungry countries where over 53 % children are stunted, while in Eritrea more than 50 % are starving according to IFPRI.
Ethiopia Ranked the worst among the 25 least to greatest levels of hunger, they included: Nepal, Tanzania, Cambodia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Djibouti, Mozambique, India, Bangladesh, Liberia, Zambia, Timor-Leste, Niger, Angola, Yemen, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, the Comoros, Haiti, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia.
Eritrea figured among the most alarming countries with Congo DR & Chad.
‘Alarming’ numbers go hungry in 25 countries including Ethiopia due to poverty, conflict, and political instability causing some billion people to go hungry this year, many of them children in Africa and Asia, according to the Global Hunger Index of 11th of October, 2010.
Out of 122 countries included in the annual report, of IFPRI, Ethiopia & Eritrea are among 25 hungry countries where 53 % children are stunted & More than 50 % are starving.
The Ethiopian and Eritrean poor governance and lack of political interest in nutrition, and stimulating demand is the main reason of the problem. Both countries do not have the necessary infrastructure to meet increased demand for health care and other services that go hand-in-hand with anti-hunger programs,
The overall number of hungry people surpassed one billion in 2009, even though it decreased to 925 million in 2010. Over 20 billion is from Ethiopia not shown in the index.
Though the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) fared the worst in the hunger index, which is based on data from 2003-2008, the 2009 and 2013 which is not covered by the IFPR will put surely Ethiopia among the extreme situation despite the double score economic growth announced t by the dictatorial regime of Melese Zenawie.
The index ranked countries on a 100-point scale, with zero being the best score—no hunger—and 100 being the worst. A score higher than 20 indicated “alarming” levels of hunger and above 30, “extremely alarming” hunger.
The DRC was the only country in this year’s index with a score above 40.
The other three countries with extremely alarming hunger levels were Burundi, Eritrea, and Chad. All have been involved in simmering or open conflict for many years.
With the exception of Haiti and Yemen, all 25 countries with “alarming” levels of hunger were in sub-Saharan Africa or Asia.
According to IFPRI’ Report the Sub-Saharan Africa situation is described as:
2010 Global Hunger Index: Facts and Findings: Sub-Saharan Africa
- Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Eritrea have the greatest levels of hunger.
- Angola, Chad, and Somalia have the highest under-five mortality rates at 20 percent or more.
- More than 50 percent of people in Burundi, the Comoros, the DRC, and Eritrea are undernourished.
- In Burundi, Madagascar, and Malawi, 53 percent of children are stunted (low height for their age); in Ethiopia and Rwanda, the figure stands at 51 percent; and in Niger, 47 percent of children are stunted.
- More than one-third (34 percent) of Mali’s children are stunted, and 11 percent suffer from wasting (low weight for one’s height). Stunting levels were nearly the same in 1996, and the prevalence of wasting has more than doubled.
- Based on the 1990 and 2010 GHI scores, the DRC has experienced the greatest deterioration in hunger, largely because of conflict and political instability. The DRC also has the highest proportion of undernourished people—three-quarters of the population—and one of the highest child mortality rates in the world.
Three over half of the population in Ethiopia and Eritrea is under-nourished. The proportion of undernourished people and the child mortality rate in each country were among two of the three factors used to compile the index.
According to the report’s co-author Marie Ruel, director of IFPRI’s Poverty, Health and Nutrition division “the third, the prevalence of underweight children, is the most important to address when trying to wrestle down hunger in a country because it accounts for nearly half the global hunger score.” And she further stressed on the child food security which is 51% of the case in Ethiopia Ruel confirmed that:
“In order to improve their hunger index, countries have to accelerate efforts to reduce child under-nutrition,” with a particular focus on the 1,000 days from conception to the age of two.
“Those 1,000 days… are a key time because damage done by under-nutrition in early life is largely irreversible.”
Adding to the above confirmation that :- “a child is not properly nourished during that period, there is “absolutely cast-iron, empirical proof” it will have “profound” long-term consequences, which ultimately going to have an impact on a country’s capacity to grow economically and socially in the future,” Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide affirmed.
Hunger mitigation programs that failed to focus on children under put Ethiopia “alarming” hunger index despite its relatively high gross domestic product per capita claimed by the dictatorial regime who blow up the growth.
Yet the true progress was found elsewhere, especially in Southeast Asia and Latin America, which both slashed their hunger indices by more than 40 percent since 1990.
Eight of the nine countries in which the hunger index went up between 1990 and 2010 were in sub-Saharan Africa mostly in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The 2010 Global Hunger Index (GHI) offers a useful and multidimensional overview of global hunger while the two countries of the horn of Africa boasted as fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 (MDGs).
Global Hunger Index PDF