The Horn of Africa is one of the most destabilised regions in Africa with Eritreans, Somalians and Sudanese people being one of the highest number of refugees worldwide. A portion of these refugees go through Libya to reach Europe. Eritrea a country of 5 million people is the fastest emptying country in the world. The United Nations (OHCHR, 2016) have estimated that 5,000 Eritreans leave the country every month.
The vast majority fleeing the country are young people trying to avoid the indefinite – theoretically 18 months but in reality there is no time limit – national service which as stated by the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea is “tantamount to slavery” (p. 50-56). The Commission of Inquiry Report on Eritrea, which came out 8 June 2016, found that “rapes committed in military training centres, in the army, in detention centres by military officials, trainers as well as detention officials and guards continue to be committed with impunity” (p. 30). The report confirmedalso finds sexual enslavement within the Eritrean military. “The Commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea since 1991. Eritrean military officials have engaged in persistent, widespread and systematic attack against the country’s civilian population. They have committed, and continue to commit, the crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder” (p. 83). It therefore, comes as no surprise that people are forced to flee the country to protect themselves and their families from such heinous crimes.
The human rights violations against these Eritreans do not end once they have fled into neighbouring countries such as Sudan and Ethiopia. Shagrab refugee camp in Eastern Sudan has had a persistent problem with kidnapping by Bedouin criminals alongside Sudanese military officials who are engaged in human trafficking as reported by reliefweb and dabang TV. Defend defensers, who monitor the situation in Sudan, continue to document grave human rights violations. and tThe Bashir Government in Sudan is known for having committed crimes against humanity on civilians in South Sudan. Therefore, there is no security for Eritreans in neighbouring Sudan. Women are in an even more difficult position as they are held at the mercy of smugglers, criminals and Bedouin gangs who prey on these vulnerable refugees and commit all sorts of violations – rape, sexual abuse, torture – so that they can extract ransoms from their families. Many refugees kidnapped from Sudan have ended up in the Sinai desert.