News / Africa

    Lampedusa Boat Tragedy a Crime Against Eritrea, Says Official

    Yemane Gebreab, political advisor to Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki
    Yemane Gebreab, political advisor to Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki
    Peter Clottey
    An adviser to Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki says human traffickers are to blame for the recent boat tragedy that left over 300 African migrants dead off Italy’s coast.

    Authorities say about 155 survived the accident which occurred about half a mile off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

    Presidential adviser Yemane Ghebreab called the incident “a crime against Eritreans, especially Eritrean youth.”

    “This is the work of human traffickers who benefit from this, and there are powerful forces behind them,” said Ghebreab. “It’s an ongoing war which is being waged against Eritrea as part of the sanctions that have been imposed on [us]. It’s part of the continued illegal occupation of Eritrean territory.  We look into the root causes and what lies behind this tragedy.”

    Ghebreab’s comments came after the government in Asmara welcomed the idea of bringing the victims home, an idea that emerged from a meeting between the Italian ambassador to Eritrea and his counterpart in Asmara.

    “As far as the burial of Eritreans who are victims of this crime are concerned, Eritrea will like to see them buried at home. This is not just the wish of the Eritrean government, it is also the wish of the families of the victims, so we are working on that,” said Ghebreab.

    Critics say official government pronouncements prove the administration is using the boat tragedy as a propaganda tool against its critics. Ghebreab disagreed.

    “There is a whole network of human traffickers, of criminals,  who have the support of officials in a number of countries and agencies of organizations which are part of this,” said Ghebreab. “No attempt is made [by the media] to look at what is really behind what is happening. This is not the first incident, and unless this war is stopped, unless the criminals who do this and organize this are brought to justice, there will be many victims.”

    Observers say the decision by young people to go abroad is due to the failure of the government to create jobs for them. They said Asmara is wrong to accuse alleged enemies rather than creating work.

    But, Ghebreab disagreed, saying the government has implemented measures to meet the UN’s efforts to improve living standards and alleviating poverty.  This, he says, in spite of sanctions imposed on the country.

    “Eritrea has made huge strides over the past two decades. We are on track in meeting most of the UN Millennium Development Goals.  The Eritrean government takes care of its youth and creates opportunities for them,” said Ghebreab. “It’s just not Eritreans, its Africans in general that are trying to migrate to Europe and other places.”

    Ghebreab blames external forces for luring young people to leave home. 

    “For Eritrea, the defining reason for this is that Eritreans are given preferential treatment and are treated not as economic migrants, but as political asylum seekers.  This is a deliberate policy that has been well documented,” said Ghebreab.
    Clottey interview with Yemane Ghebreab, presidential adviser
    Clottey interview with Yemane Ghebreab, presidential adviseri
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Holds Biggest Political Meeting in 36 Years

    Workers' Party Congress set for Friday; Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 3
        Next 
    by: Abraham from: Usa
    November 03, 2013 1:30 AM
    Eriterians will suffer more and more catastrophic deaths because the don't know why they fought for thirty years and they have no idea the identity of their government and they will face war after the fall of tplf or wayane!!

    by: Anonymous
    October 19, 2013 1:57 PM
    Pray for Selma in eritrean !

    by: abraham from: usa
    October 18, 2013 11:12 AM
    God bless the lives lost at sea, but we eritreans need to stand for what is ours. we cant have monkey and dictator any more, they are half tigrayians, not eritreans. and are destroying our country. WAKE UP!! WAKE UP!! ERITREANS, they shouldnt be blaming smuglers they should be blaming theirself. with indefinite military service,and it's not really military service it's slavery. they have to build house and pave road etc.. they dont even get paid. they cannot live their own live. they cant go to college, get a job, and support their families. that's why they leave. i sense a civil war in eritrea soon. our unity and peace will be destroyed forever. And for all of you dictator supporters go live in eritrea and suffer like our people do. get a taste of our reality.

    by: Berhan Gedem from: Minnesota U.S.A.
    October 18, 2013 11:05 AM
    First all Yemanea Gebreab is not adviser or division maker his puppet and loud speaker of this brutal dictator of ESsayas.Esayas the only person made decision.The phenomen what we see in Eritrea today personally I was predict and said before independent Eritrea because from experience in armed struggle.the only solution ifor all this problem the Eritrean people mast be united to get ride of this evil cruel dictator and replace democratic institution and government

    by: Observer from: Here
    October 17, 2013 11:18 PM
    I am Eritrean and I think this guy is on drugs. Wow. He is blaming human traffickers. Wake up Eritreans. Time to get a new administration.
    In Response

    by: mohammed from: asmara
    October 18, 2013 5:01 AM
    WE SHOULD STAND FOR THIS

    by: FRE WEYANE from: TIGRAY
    October 17, 2013 1:35 PM
    ERITREANS SORRY FOR THE ONCE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE SEA BUT BE SURE YOU WILL FAIL AS A STATE ONCE FOR ALL UNLESS YOU STOP BLAMING OTHERS FOR YOUR FAILURE

    by: Freqalsi Warsai from: Oakland,ca
    October 17, 2013 11:42 AM
    Eritrea never Neal down. It always strives while other are thinking otherwise. We have always proved the world super powers Worong and we will do it again and again untile one day, they understand Eritreans do not give up easily and they would sacrifice over and over untile they reach their destiny. Awet Nihafash and Zelalemawi Zikri Nisematat Eritrea!!
    In Response

    by: Rahel from: Washington Dc
    October 18, 2013 10:32 AM
    Are you kidding me, our people are dying becouse of sheytan DIA and his followers, I myself paid the Eritrean government 20.000 to let me out of my beloved country, so go to sawa and see what is going on there, haseweti kemakum abzi kof elkum tetakeuu teseseuu while your people are dying. you will pay for it very soon ashashu.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    October 17, 2013 12:27 PM
    Why don't you go back and live in Eritrea??? What are you doing in California?

    by: Aguma Bera from: Atlanta Georgia
    October 17, 2013 9:01 AM
    Dear Mr G/Ab I'm total agree with ur political reality.There id no sought that the puppet wayane and the western are all behind this tragedy ,However eritrean national must stand together to overcome the enemy dream to fall.Long life H.E.Afewerki and eritrean ppl.

    by: Mengis from: Londin
    October 16, 2013 7:27 PM
    Great talk to VOA Mr yemane .Let's camel march & the dogs bark .Eritrean people Are aware Weyane boot lickers.Truth hurt Continue doing your job, do not bestow down to the West. We Eritreans agree with this struggle and will continue to support our people in times of adversity. The opposition are fuelled by the west and the people writing here have no sense of reality. Do not become economic slaves to the west, fight for our true civil freedom, continue doing your work Awet n'Hafash!!!

    by: Mohamed from: London
    October 16, 2013 6:46 PM
    It's really a very simple equation, if people didn't have a reason to leave they wouldn't. Eritrea is one of, if not the, poorest countries in the world. Ofcourse people are going to flee. Endless military service, a closed economy, no educational opportunities and the endless threat of war. No one wants to live in a place like that. Eritrean government should accept responsibility for the deaths, they are the ones providing people smugglers etc with a market.
    In Response

    by: Hamza from: Sweden
    October 17, 2013 12:23 AM
    I agree with you Mohamed. Military officers in Eritrea are highly involved in this market. The agames and thier eviel mind is fully determined To do what they Can do even more To harm our people. The eritrean gov. Tries To play as à victom of foraigen powers but they are worst abuser of thier people.
    Comments page of 3
        Next 

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora