Eritrea: A humanitarian emergency

2014-03-06 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) A conference was held at Vatican Radio on Thursday on the plight of Eritreans forced to flee their country. The meeting was sponsored by the International Organisation for Migration on the theme, “From Eritrea to Europe, news from a humanitarian emergency”.
Since 2004 over 200,000 Eritreans out of the 5.6 million strong population have fled to border camps in Eastern Sudan and also Israel.
Thousand’s have also tried to escape to Europe by crossing the Mediterranean on often barely sea worthy crafts, many dying on the journey.
Making the journey from Eritrea can mean running the risk of being kidnapped and trafficked. Those who cannot a pay the ransom demanded by the traffickers face being tortured or even killed.
“They cross from Eritrea to Sudan from Sudan to Libya many of them have lost their lives in the desert, many of them become kidnapped by the traffickers. These traffickers ask for a ransom… normally now up to 40 thousand dollars for one person, if you don’t pay you are tortured, so a lot of suffering for these people”, says Fr Mussie Zerai, Chairman of Habeshia Agency for Cooperation and Development.
He goes on to say that, many Eritean’s have previously been sold to traffickers in the Sinai peninsula but now it’s happening in “that triangle between Egypt, Sudan and Libya even between the border of Libya and Niger, Libya and Chad…” So what be done to stop the suffering endured by so many Eritrean’s searching for the better life? Fr Zerai hopes that the international community can play its part. “What is possible to do for the international community is find solutions to the conflict between Ethiopia because the border problem is still there.” Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Fr Mussie Zerai