Eritrea

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    Video caption: Tigray crisis: Three consequences of the crisis in Ethiopia

    Three consequences of the ongoing crisis in Tigray.

  2. New Zealand's first African MP 'overwhelmed' by win

    Ibrahim Omer fled Eritrea as a refugee making his way to New Zealand and becoming the country's first ever African MP.

    He told the BBC's Peter Okwoche that his win was historic.

    "I'm very overwhelmed, very excited at the same time because this is for us as a country New Zealand and for me as a person and for the community that I represent here in New Zealand," he said.

    Mr Ibrahim spent years working as an interpreter in a Sudanese camp and later the UNHCR resettled him in New Zealand.

    He says his presence in parliament will be benefiting the community.

    "I suppose to me the reason why I was doing it was a way of also giving back to the society, to the community, to the country that gave me so much. At the end of the day, the tax payers funded me coming to New Zealand so I needed to do, I needed to say thank you by doing something, something nice for the communities and the country," he said.

    Watch Mr Ibrahim's interview below:

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    Video caption: Ibrahim Omer: Eritrean refugee who became an MP in New Zealand
  3. Video content

    Video caption: Ibrahim Omer: Eritrean refugee who became an MP in New Zealand

    Ibrahim Omer fled Eritrea as a refugee making his way to New Zealand where he became an MP.

  4. Video content

    Video caption: Ethiopia Tigray crisis: 'We fled from death and murder'

    Ethiopians explain why they fled their homes in Tigray to seek refuge in Sudan.

  5. Eritrea and Netherlands in 'diaspora tax' spat

    Tesfalem Araia

    BBC Tigrinya

    A composite image of Yemane Gebremeskel and Stef Blok
    Image caption: Yemane Gebremeskel called Stef Blok's intervention "unacceptable"

    An employee at Eritrea's consulate in The Hague has been banned from the site following allegations that money was being "forcibly" collected there from Eritreans.

    Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok summoned Eritrea's roving ambassador in Brussels, to convey his demands for the practice to stop, according to local reports.

    In January 2018, the Eritrean Consul General in the Netherlands was declared persona non grata for charging Eritreans there a 2% "diaspora tax" from their income.

    Some Eritreans who need services from embassies are still forced to pay the levy which was introduced soon after the country gained independence in 1991.

    Eritrea's information minister has rejected the latest allegations and accused the Dutch of "harassing" the consulate, and insists no "illicit" funds were levied.

    In a tweet on Tuesday, Yemane Gebermeskel called it "unacceptable behaviour” that was “pandering to narrow interest groups”.

    He added that the non-resident Dutch ambassador would be summoned, and promised "further appropriate and reciprocal action" would be announced "in due time".

    It is not yet clear what kind of action the Eritrean government can take as the Netherlands does not have an embassy in Asmara.

    Sources say the person acting as head of the consulate does not have any diplomatic status in the country.

    The Eritrean government has been encouraging those living in the diaspora to contribute to a national fund to combat Covid-19. Some have criticised the government for not being transparent in the way it manages the funds.

  6. Former refugee becomes New Zealand's first African MP

    Teklemariam Bekit

    BBC News Tigrinya

    Labour List MP Ibrahim Omer
    Image caption: Ibrahim Omer was ranked 42 in the party list

    An Eritrean former refugee has become New Zealand's first African MP following Labour Party’s biggest victory in 50 years.

    Ibrahim Omer is now a list MP having ranked 42 in the Labour Party list.

    List MPs are elected from a party list rather than from a geographical constituency.

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's party won enough seats to allow Mr Ibrahim to be in parliament.

    During campaigns Mr Ibrahim said he wanted to "fight for people in the positions he has been in to have better opportunities for a decent life".

    He fled Eritrea in 2003 into a refugee camp in neighbouring Sudan. He was later resettled in New Zealand where he worked as a cleaner at Victoria University.

    He studied at the university while working as a cleaning supervisor and got involved in politics while there.

    Mr Ibrahim said his win was "for the low paid workers" and "former refugees".

  7. Family of missing Eritrean poet welcomes PEN award

    The family of Eritrean poet Amanuel Asrat, who won the 2020 English PEN Award for International Writer of Courage, has welcomed the award.

    Mr Amanuel has not been seen or heard from in 19 years, since he was arrested in Eritrea. He was the editor of the Zemen newspaper at the time.

    The poet's brother, Daniel Asrat Mebrahtu, told the BBC's Newsday that it was painful that his brother's whereabouts were not known.

    He said the award was a well deserved surprise for his family.

    "He was a critic especially he was against the war that erupted in 1998 and claimed 2,000 casualties from both Ethiopia and Eritrea," Mr Daniel said.

    The poet cum journalist was arrested at the height of the war as part of the Eritrean government's crackdown on critics.

    "Nothing is known about his whereabouts whether he is alive or dead...no government officials give statements regarding the whereabouts of the prisoners...there is nowhere you can ask about their whereabouts," Mr Amanuel's brother told Newsday.

    Listen to Mr Daniel's full interview and him reading an excerpt of the war poem that won his brother an award:

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    Video caption: Amanuel Asrat wins the 2020 Pen Award for International Writer of Courage
  8. The award-winning Eritrean poet not seen for almost 20 years

    Video content

    Video caption: Amanuel Asrat wins the 2020 Pen Award for International Writer of Courage

    Amanuel Asrat wins the 2020 Pen Award for International Writer of Courage

  9. Jailed Eritrean poet wins English PEN award

    BBC World Service

    The free speech organisation English PEN has given its 2020 award for International Writer of Courage to the Eritrean poet Amanuel Asrat.

    Mr Amanuel has not been seen or heard from in 19 years, since he was arrested as part of a clampdown on government critics in his homeland.

    He was the editor of the newspaper Zemen at the time.

    His brother addressed the online ceremony on Monday and one of his poems was read out.

    He was recommended for the award by the Jamaican-born British poet Linton Kwesi Johnson.

    View more on twitter
  10. Eritrean president arrives in Ethiopia for visit

    Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki has arrived in Ethiopia for a three-day working visit.

    His delegation includes Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and presidential adviser Yemane Ghebreab.

    President Isaias and his host, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, will hold consultations on further enhancement of bilateral ties as well as the consolidation of regional cooperation, according to Eritrea's minister of information.

    The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation has tweeted a photo of President Isaias's arrival:

    View more on twitter

    Ethiopia and Eritrea ended two decades of tension in 2018 and signed a peace deal.

  11. Eritrea 'releases Christian prisoners on bail'

    Kahsay Tewoldebirhan

    BBC Tigrinya

    The Eritrean government has released on bail more than 20 prisoners who had been in detention for years because of their faith, sources have told the BBC.

    The prisoners from Christian evangelical and Pentecostal denominations are among those being held in a prison outside the capital, Asmara.

    In Eritrea only four religious groups are officially recognised - Christian Orthodox, Catholic Church, Lutheran Church and Sunni Islam.

    Since 2002 all other religious groups have lacked the legal basis to practise their faiths publicly, including holding prayer meetings or weddings, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

    US-based Hannibal Daniel, who campaigns for religious freedom, said people imprisoned for about 16 years were among those freed.

    He said their conditional release could be linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Eritrean government has not officially commented on the reported release of the prisoners, but it has previously dismissed accusations of intolerance to religious freedom.

    Campaigners advocating for religious freedom say three Jehovah Witnesses have been in prison in the country for more than 25 years.

    The US State Department estimates that there are 1,200 to 3,000 prisoners of faith in Eritrea

  12. Eritrean activists take EU to court

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Eritrean activists have sued the European Union, demanding it stop funding a project which they say uses forced labour.

    National service recruits were set to be used and the Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans (FHRE) says conscripts are "trapped for an indefinite period".

    The group, which is based in the Netherlands, accused the EU of failing to conduct adequate checks before it provided more than $85m (£70m) to finance a road linking Eritrea with Ethiopia.

    The European Commission said its actions were guided by the rule of law.

    Eritrea has complained that the lawsuit, filed in Amsterdam, is part of a demonisation campaign by its opponents.

    The UN has described the system of indefinite conscription in Eritrea as slavery.

  13. Covid-19: Respected Eritrean freedom fighter dies

    Teklemariam Bekit

    BBC News Tigrinya

    Afwerki Abraha
    Image caption: Afwerki Abraha started his diplomatic career after years fighting in the liberation war

    Former Eritrean diplomat Afwerki Abraha has died in the UK after contracting coronavirus, his family say.

    The respected former liberation fighter, who was 71 years old and had been in intensive care in London for one month, did not have any underlying health issues, they say.

    “Afwerki Abraha was a man who easily made the transition from a fighter to a professional and a loyal person,” his colleague and senior diplomat Haile Menkerios told the BBC.

    Before joining the war of independence from Ethiopia, Mr Afwerki had studied political science and qualified as a chemist in Russia.

    He went to the front in 1975 from Germany, where he had been living.

    After the war he became the first Eritrean diplomat to be posted to Ethiopia.

    He then moved on to London, where he was officially based from 1996 until 2001.

    After his wife Fatina Ahmedin, an artist and former fighter, was knocked down by a car in London leaving her paralysed, the couple opted to stay in the UK.

    One of his relatives told the BBC that Mr Afwerki was devoted to his wife’s care for 20 years “never leaving her alone”.

    His friends too have described him as a very committed man who loved his family dearly.

  14. Video content

    Video caption: The Ethiopia-Eritrea border dividing families

    How the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea is dividing families and communities who live along it.

  15. Eritrean president flies to Ethiopia ending rumours he died

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News, Addis Ababa

    Isaias Afwerki
    Image caption: Isaias Afwerki had not been seen in public for so long that people were speculating he had died

    The president of Eritrea has flown to neighbouring Ethiopia for what officials say are talks about coronavirus and the locust infestation that has been destroying crops in the region.

    Isaias Afwerki's arrival in Addis Ababa comes after a prolonged period when he had been not been seen in public at all, which prompted speculation about the state of his health.

    It is not clear why the Eritrean leader chose to travel when most other meetings in the region have been conducted via video conference.

    Mr Isaias has been leading Eritrea since independence in the early 1990s.