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

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
 Previous   Next 
by: mark from: Africa
October 16, 2013 4:37 PM
First of All, Yemane Gebreab and Isayas Afewerki do not represent us any more. They are half Ethiopians and should be deported there so that they can get life Imprisonment. We hate them so much as they are destroying our beloved country.

This guys are sick and sick and they are making me sick to just read it. People are escaping Eritrean because of dictatorship and brutal government that we have in Asmara. I am sure the crime that is been done right today is much worse than what the Italians did to us in the beginning of this century.

May God bless our country in this difficult times.

by: mans from: Bahrain
October 16, 2013 2:16 PM
He's blaming the outside , UN & the arab I wish he's on his mind - difinatly eritean citicens living the luxury inside so who will leave the country they will shoot him because on whom they will spend the gold & diamond

by: William from: Eritrea
October 16, 2013 2:09 PM
The evil armies are wasting their time on hired and corrupted Ngo, Humanitarian ploy actors, self interst companies backyard to torpedo the Eritrean independence and sell their Eritrean identify but the right army is busy building his nation and secure his existance as a proud dignified citizen, and there is a million ways he will succeed .

by: Abraham from: Canada
October 16, 2013 2:03 PM
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!!!
In Response

by: fithi from: london
October 16, 2013 2:39 PM
Brother are you living in Eritrea. Why do you live in Canada? First you must go there to live.

by: Thomas Negassi from: London
October 16, 2013 12:23 PM
The most annoying person in every thing he knows no one on earth will trust this man !!

October 16, 2013 12:15 PM
saying,human traffickers are to blame and a powerful force behind them. one expecting you to say "that was our fault, we need to fixed it"do you forget to say ,indefinite national service conscription drive them to leave the country ,unfortunately the Eritrean youth have no right ever to choose what they are going to for their suffocated them, therefor they dicided to look their future outside their land. please stop deceiving the people.we used the way to get in EU one drove us to leave out country but you

by: Imbaye Measho from: Nottingham
October 16, 2013 12:02 PM
I think they don't even now how to respect each other let alone to speak we this people let as show tham what we can do brother's and sister's may god bless eritera

by: mr bee from: Canada
October 16, 2013 7:53 AM
He is blaming for outsiders. He doesn't have control his own country. Iraq is shame.

by: eritreaplf from: dc
October 16, 2013 7:14 AM
The illegal sanctions must end, the illegal occupation of badme must end, and these arab human traffickers must be arrrsted for their crimes against humanity
In Response

by: fithi from: London
October 16, 2013 2:45 PM
I agree with you but it must stop the slavery in Eritrea. People work for nothing life is better when Mengstu was there for get about when we had Imperial HaileSellasie.
You live in DC that is not part of Eritrea, eritreans are living in very bad condition.

by: Thang cho Nguyen Tan Dung from: Kampucheakrom
October 16, 2013 7:07 AM
To crazy Yemane Gebreab, political advisor to Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki, you should learn that if you do not wish these people to be drowned in the vast ocean, you should give them better living conditions, better lives or else you should take necessary actions to prevent these people from living your own country. Furthermore, your country should have a rule of law or else shut up your mouth.
Comments page of 3
 Previous   Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs