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

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

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 

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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs