Eritrean Minors

Decent Essays

Eritrea, a small country in the Horn of Africa, has been labeled the “North Korea of Africa.” Eritrea is a relatively new country that gained its independence in 1993 after a 30-year war with its neighboring country Ethiopia (Stevis and Parkinson, WSJ). Disputes over the border, however, continued until 1998 and tensions prevail to this day. The Eritrean government prohibits its citizens from leaving the country and military conscription is mandatory for both male and female youths starting at the age of 18. Today, unaccompanied Eritrean minors are leaving the totalitarian state in massive numbers. In fact, unaccompanied Eritrean minors constitute one of the main groups of migrant children travelling to Europe (New York Times, …show more content…

Keetharuth states that “...Eritrea’s military/national service programmes include arbitrary and indefinite duration, often for years beyond the 18 months set out in the law; their involuntary nature; the use of conscripts as forced labour, including manual labour; the inhumane conditions of service; the rape and torture often associated with these military/national service programmes…” (Keetharuth October 2016, p.1). Another factor, in addition to evading military conscription, that forces unaccompanied minors to leave Eritrea is the high levels of poverty. Many Eritrean minors suffer starvation level poverty and their living conditions are exacerbated by ineffective government economic policies, a recent example would be the Eritrean government’s introduction of new currencies in 2015 and restrictions on cash flow. These two factors have lead to massive numbers of unaccompanied Eritrean minors to leave the country. Unaccompanied minors are those who are separated from their families and travel alone outside of their country. Unaccompanied Eritrean minors who lack adult supervision are extremely vulnerable and at high-risk of abuse and sex-trafficking when making the journey to Europe. Eritrean minors who desert their military duty or those near the age of conscription are even more vulnerable because of the government's “shoot to kill” border policy. In

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