Eritrea

  1. Ukraine a victim of West 'war' on Russia - Eritrea

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    children's cuddly toy sits on top of a destroyed Russian main battle tank, next to war damaged homes, on May 24, 2022 in Hostomel, Ukraine.
    Image caption: Eritrea says Ukraine is a victim of West's "forces of hegemony"

    Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki says developments in Ukraine are a continuation of a long-term Western strategy to contain Russia, and that Ukraine and its people are "victims".

    He made the remarks while addressing the nation on Eritrea's 31st Independence Day from the main stadium in the capital, Asmara, on Tuesday.

    He alleged that "forces of hegemony" had after the collapse of the Soviet Union decided to "rule the world through anchor states" against Russia.

    He accused the West of a strategy to use Eastern European countries bordering Russia as a wedge, which had created a dangerous situation.

    "What we are witnessing in Ukraine now is not something spontaneous but a continuation of the strategy. Ukraine and its people are victims and a pretext," Mr Afewerki added.

    Eritrea was the only African country that opposed a UN resolution in March that condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    It joined Russia, Belarus, North Korea and Syria in voting against the resolution.

  2. Somali troops are in Eritrea, outgoing president reveals

    Issa Ahmed

    BBC News Somali

    Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo
    Image caption: Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was speaking during a ceremony to hand over power to his successor

    The outgoing Somali president has for the first time publicly spoken about the presence of Somali troops in Eritrea.

    While handing over office to the incoming president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo said he had officially given the files concerning the recruits to his successor President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

    Early last year reports emerged that thousands of soldiers were being trained in Eritrea - claims that were denied by the government despite protests in Mogadishu.

    But in a twist of events, a year later the former president has confirmed their presence in Eritrea.

    He said the 5,000 troops had completed their military training last year, but their return was delayed due to the election period.

    There were accusations that the recruits were involved in the civil war in northern Ethiopia, where the federal government is fighting the Tigray People's Liberation Front.

    A UN report submitted to the General Assembly in 2021 said Somali soldiers were fighting alongside Eritrean troops who were backing the federal government, allegations that the Somali government denied.

  3. BreakingEritrean cyclist makes history in Italy

    BBC Focus on Africa

    Biniam Girmay celebrates winning stage 10.

    Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay has just made history.

    He's won stage 10 of the Giro D'Italia, to become the first black African to win a stage on the Grand Tour.

    It comes a week before Eritrea celebrates its Independence Day.

  4. 'Iconic Eritrean actor' Saeed Anwar Saleh dies at 38

    Prominent Eritrean actor Saeed Anwar Saleh, who has appeared in dozens of films, has died at the age of 38, BBC Tigrinya reports.

    Information Minister Yemane Gebre Meskel described him as "one of Eritrea's iconic film actors".

    View more on twitter

    He was best known for his role as a lead character, Josi, in the popular TV series Machelo.

    In an interview last year, he described the character as self-centred and shameless, saying that in real life he was completely the opposite.

    On acting in general he said: "I believe I am living my dream, because I always wished to be an actor in popular movies."

  5. Tigray forces clash with Eritrean army - reports

    Ethiopia-Eritrea map

    Forces in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region have clashed with the Eritrean army along the border, a credible source in Addis Ababa has told the BBC.

    The source added that the clashes happened in the Tigrayan area of Rama, and the disputed town of Badme, which an international tribunal has awarded to Eritrea. Both sides engaged in shelling using heavy artillery, the source said.

    Other sources in Tigray also said there had been fighting at the border.

    "Tigrayan forces retreated and the fight halted last night. However, it demonstrates the TPLF's aggressive behaviour," the source said, referring to the Tigray People's Liberation Front, which is in control of the region. It has been fighting Ethiopian forces and their Eritrean allies since November 2020.

    The BBC could not reach either Eritrean or Tigrayan forces for comment.

    Both the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces have said that they are preparing for another round of war.

    TPLF chairman Debretsion Gebremichael last week said that "the people of Tigray will bear the burden of ensuring their survival" if the international community couldn't ensure that desperately needed food aid was sent to the region.

    "Seven million Tigrayans are facing semi-starvation. Of course, we will not all perish in 60 days, but there are limits to society's endurance," he wrote to the UN.

    On Saturday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that the army was ready to "defend like a lion, and attack like a wolf".

    Meanwhile, the prime minister's office has referred to the disputed Western Tigray region as being part of the Amhara Region. It is officiaily part of Tigray but has been under the control of Amhara forces since the conflict started.

    View more on twitter
  6. Video content

    Video caption: World Press Freedom Day: Where do African countries rank?

    The United Nations General Assembly declared 3 May is World Press Freedom Day, but what does that mean?

  7. Elon Musk urged to provide Eritrea with the internet

    Teklemariam Bekit

    BBC Tigrinya

    South Africa-born billionaire Elon Musk is being urged on Twitter to provide his internet service to Eritrea after recently coming to the aid of Ukraine.

    The SpaceX founder has donated Starlink dishes to Ukraine over fears internet access will be disrupted following Russia's invasion.

    Using the hashtag #Starlink4Eritrea, those mainly in the diaspora have been saying that Eritrea has been isolated for two decades because of its lack of access to the internet.

    View more on twitter
    View more on twitter

    Eritrea has one of Africa's lowest rates of internet penetration - a report by the International Telecommunication Union put it at barely over 1%.

    State-owned EriTel is the sole provider of telecom services in the country.

    People can only access the internet via WiFi, but it is very slow. To get on to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, people use a virtual private network (VPN) to circumvent government censorship.

    Since its independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has been a one-party state controlled by President Isaias Afwerki.

    The country has never had an election and is accused of violently suppressing opposition and silencing the media, both of which are currently non-existent.

    Last week, Eritrea was one of only five countries in the world that voted against a resolution deploring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the UN General Assembly.

    Mr Musk’s Starlink uses satellites in low-orbit in space, not a fibre-optic cable system, to provide the internet. People need kit from SpaceX to access the signals.

    The satellite also needs to communicate with a nearby ground station, or gateway, to supply the internet. In Ukraine’s case, there is a gateway in neighbouring Poland.

  8. Eritrean cyclist delighted after winning title

    Habtom Weldeyowhannes

    BBC Tigrinya

    Natnael Tesfatsion

    Eritrean cyclist Natnael Tesfatsion has told BBC Tigrinya that he is "very delighted" to have won the 14th edition of Tour du Rwanda on Sunday.

    The cyclist, who is a member of Drone hopper Androni Giocattoli, has won the tournament for a second time. His first title was in 2020.

    Around 95 cyclists in 19 teams and national teams participated in the week-long race.

    Eritrea's national team could not take part this year because of a lack of Covid vaccinations. Eritrea is the only country in Africa that has not started vaccinating to its population.

  9. Emotional reunion for mother and son after 47 years

    Teklemariam Bekit

    BBC News Tigrinya

    Mother and son reunited
    Image caption: Mussie Kahsay Tesfagergis's mother, Zenebech, made an appeal on Ethiopian TV

    An Eritrean man separated from his mother when he was a child has been reunited with her 47 years later.

    His mother, Zenebech, made an emotional appearance on Ethiopian TV channel EBS days ago, saying her daily prayer was "to see my son before I die".

    Mussie Kahsay Tesfagergis surprised her with a phone call soon after, and flew from his home in the United States to Ethiopia where his mother now lives.

    Mussie became teary-eyed as he arrived at the airport, recalling his mother. When asked what what gift he had brought his mother, he replied: "Myself."

    Mother and son were introduced at a ceremony hosted by the family and EBS. Mussie said he had no real memory of her, but knew her face from photographs.

    They sobbed as they hugged one another.

    "I feel happy when I see my mother after all these years. This is the happiest day of my life," Mussie said.

    "I'd love to kiss the sky, but I couldn't reach it. I owe my gratitude to all Ethiopians," his mother said.

    Mussie's long-lost brother said: "I am really happy - I had only seen him in a photo."

    Mussie was taken as a child by his Eritrean father who was an air force mechanic, and travelled to Asmara, the capital, with his two brothers.

    They left their mother in 1966, during the reign of Haile Selassie. Zenebech never heard from her sons again.

    But she received a letter during the Derg period, stating that one son had gone to the bush to fight alongside the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) and the other two had moved abroad.

  10. Gunmen kill five Eritreans in refugee camp - UN

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News

    The UN says that at least five Eritrean refugees were killed earlier this month when armed men attacked a camp in Ethiopia's north-eastern Afar region, where fighting has continued between the government and rebels from neighbouring Tigray.

    Several women were also kidnapped during the raid on Berhale camp and many residents fled and family members lost each other in the chaos, the world body says.

    More than 100,000 Eritrean refugees were living in Tigray and Afar regions when the civil war broke out 15 months ago - thousands are now unaccounted for.

    For many years, Eritreans fleeing political persecution and forced conscription found safe havens in camps in neighbouring Ethiopia.

    Since the conflict started in November 2020 in Ethiopia, they have often been attacked both by Eritrean soldiers, fighting alongside Ethiopian government troops, and Tigrayan rebels.

    Fighting has significantly reduced in numerous areas of Ethiopia’s north but military confrontations continue to be reported in Afar, where the regional authorities accuse Tigrayan rebels of aggression and attacking civilian targets. Tigrayan forces deny targeting civilians.

    Map of Ethiopia, showing the Tigray and Afar regions
  11. Deposed Eritrean Orthodox Church leader dies

    Abune Antonios spent 16 years under house arrest

    Tesfalem Araia

    BBC Tigrinya

    Antonios has been known to criticise the Eritrean governm
    Image caption: Abune Antonios was a critic of the Eritrean government

    A former head of Eritrea's Orthodox Church, who had been under house arrest for 16 years, has died, church officials have told the BBC.

    Abune Antonios, who had long been a critic of the Eritrean government, was deposed as patriarch in 2006.

    News of the 94-year-old's death on Wednesday was announced by the North America diocese of the church, which had been supporting him.

    He ran into trouble in 2006 when he reportedly refused a government request to excommunicate 3,000 members of a Sunday school movement - he had also spoken out about the arrest of priests.

    Analysts believe he was deposed so the government could have full control of the Eritrean Orthodox Church.

    Thirteen years into his house arrest, a group of Eritrean top bishops accused him of “heresy” and expelled him from the church.

    Though the church continued to hold him on their premises, saying it was doing so out of charity.

    His supporters, led by the US-based Coptic Bishop Abune Makarios, accuse the government of interfering in church affairs - which it denies.

    The former patriarch is seen by many Eritreans, both Christian and Muslim, in the diaspora as a symbol of resistance against the government's alleged role in religious and human rights violations.

    Many are sharing their tributes on social media.

    There has been no official report in Eritrea about the former patriarch's death.

    You may be interested in:

  12. Eritreans barred from Tour du Rwanda over vaccines

    BBC Tigrinya

    An Eritrean cyclist in Rwanda in 2017
    Image caption: Eritrean cyclists have performed well during the Tour du Rwanda over the years

    Eritrea’s national cycling team will not take part in the Tour du Rwanda, due to start next month, as it cannot meet the Covid-19 vaccine requirements.

    The organisers of the Tour du Rwanda told the BBC that only cyclists who were vaccinated could participate.

    Eritrea is the only country on the African continent that has not yet started vaccinating its citizens against coronavirus.

    Throughout the pandemic, Rwanda has had strict rules, including various lockdowns.

    This week, the government said that people must be fully vaccinated to access public spaces and events.

    The announcement made by Tour du Rwanda in a tweet is a blow to the Eritrean team, which is one of Africa's most successful.

    View more on twitter

    The Tour du Rwanda has been growing in popularity. It was recognised by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in 2009 and the following year Eritrea’s Olympian Daniel Teklehaimanot took the yellow jersey.

    After the race was upgraded to a higher classification in 2019, it attracted more world-renowned cyclists with Eritreans Merhawi Kudus and Natnael Tesfatsion taking yellow jerseys in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

  13. Egypt forcing Eritreans home into great risk - rights group

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Human Rights Watch says the authorities in Egypt have been forcing Eritrean asylum seekers to return home, putting them at risk of detention and torture.

    It said 24 people were deported last month, including children.

    The rights group has accused Egypt of carrying out arbitrary arrests and detention of asylum seekers, refugees, and other migrants as well as denying some detainees access to the UN's refugee agency.

    It has called for an end to the forced returns and says all Eritreans should have full access to asylum procedures.

    More than 20,000 Eritrean refugees in Egypt have registered with the UN's refugee agency.

  14. Eritreans raise $500,000 for cancer patient in 24 hours

    Tesfalem Araia

    BBC Tigrinya

    Yonas Tsegay with his family
    Image caption: Yonas Tsegay appeared in a video with his wife and six children

    Eritreans in the diaspora have raised nearly 700,000 Canadian dollars ($560,000, £410,000) within a day of launching a fundraising campaign for a man back home to get treatment abroad for a rare form of blood cancer.

    The money for Yonas Tsegay was raised through a GoFundMe appeal started by Canada-based Eritrean Mebrahtu Hidray.

    In a video linked to the campaign, Mr Yonas and his family, who live in a village south of Eritrea's capital, Asmara, describe their circumstances.

    The recording shows he is clearly in pain. His wife, surrounded by their six young children, says he has had the disease for a year now.

    The authorities told him to seek medical treatment abroad but his family is unable to afford this, she says.

    Some days the children have to stay home from school to help their parents.

    With the help of Eritrea-based YouTube channel Henpas Entertainment, the family decided to seek help through GoFundMe - and Eritreans in the diaspora responded immediately.

    In the first 12 hours, more than 350,000 Canadian dollars were raised. The target of 400,000 Canadian dollars was surpassed, and a new target of 600,000 Canadian dollars was set. That amount too has now been surpassed, with 676,533 Canadian dollars raised following 11,800 donations.

    Yosief Werke - who was among those involved in the fundraising effort - told BBC Tigrinya he had never seen such a response. He said many people were touched by Mr Yonas's plea for help.

    He suffers from Hodgkin lymphoma, which is described by the UK National Health Service (NHS) as an “uncommon” blood cancer that “can usually be treated successfully with chemotherapy alone, or chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy”.

    The most common symptoms include a painless swelling in a lymph node, usually in the neck, armpit or groin.

  15. Aid agencies halt work in Tigray zone after air strike

    Ethiopian government forces in Amhara region
    Image caption: Government forces have been fighting rebels in this part of Ethiopia for more than a year

    Aid agencies have suspended operations in a zone of Ethiopia's northern Tigray region where dozens of people were killed in an air strike, the UN says.

    "The ongoing threats of drone strikes" left them little choice but to halt activities, the UN’s humanitarian agency Ocha has said.

    Aid workers over the weekend said that 56 people had been killed and dozens more injured in an air strike on a camp for the displaced.

    It came as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) spokesman, Getachew Reda, accused Eritrea of launching fresh attacks against the group’s fighters. It has not responded to the accusations.

    Ethiopian government forces, bolstered by Eritrean troops, have been fighting rebels in Tigray for more than a year in a war that has killed thousands of people.

  16. Eritrea accused of fresh attacks in Tigray

    The rebels in northern Ethiopia's Tigray region have accused neighbouring Eritrea of carrying out attacks.

    The Tigray People Liberation Front's spokesperson, Getachew Reda tweeted that fresh attacks had been launched against the group's forces.

    View more on twitter

    This comes days after the rebels withdrew from neighbouring regions and the Ethiopian military said it would not pursue them to their region in Tigray.

    Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki told state media over the weekend that his troops would prevent any attack on Eritrea as well as any threats to Ethiopia's stability.

    Eritrean troops had been fighting alongside Ethiopia in the war against the Tigrayan rebels which broke out in November 2020. The war has since morphed into a brutal civil war.

    Neither Eritrea nor the Ethiopian government has responded to the latest accusation by the rebels.

  17. Eritrean refugees killed in Tigray airstrike - UN

    BBC World Service

    Ethiopian security forces patrol at street after Ethiopian army took control of Hayk town of Amhara city from the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF)
    Image caption: The UN has called on government forces and Tigrayan rebels to respect civilians

    Three Eritrean's living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia's Tigray region were killed in an airstrike on Wednesday, the UN says.

    Two of the dead were children.

    Several other people were injured in the attack on the Mai Aini camp.

    The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said refugees should never be a target.

    He called on Ethiopian government forces and Tigrayan rebels to respect civilians.

    Conflict in the region broke out in November 2020.