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
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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.
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