Everything has changed, but nothing has changed: Assessing the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea
A chapter in "Building Democracy in Eritrea," ed. Habte Hagos, London: Eritrea Focus, 2019
Nearly a year after peace was declared in July 2018, the outlook was laced with uncertainty within both countries and the region—a jumble of promising initiatives, dangerous trends and unresolved crises. After a brief burst of excitement—and open borders—hopes for change in Eritrea were dashed as the “peace process” stalled, leaving the way forward unclear.
Refugees, Migration, and Gated Nations: The Eritrean Experience
African Studies Review, vol. 52, no. 3 (December 2016)
A schematic overview of Eritrea’s refugee exodus: what lies behind it, what awaits the refugees at camps in neighboring states, and what can be done to mitigate the risks and begin to wind down the deepening social and political crisis that this outflow both reflects and amplifies.
Caught in the Crossfire of Climate and Politics: The Eritrean Afars in Ethiopia (Part 2)
Middle East Report, No. 277 (Winter 2015)
Conscription into the army or other government service for years on end, fear of detention and torture for real or imagined transgressions with no legal recourse, no prospect of schooling or meaningful work, and no personal freedom: The reasons Afars in Ethiopia gave for fleeing their homeland echo those of many Eritrean refugees. But most Afars have another grievance—disempowerment and ethnic discrimination.
Eritrean Afars: The Refugees You Never Hear About (Part 1)
Middle East Report, No.276 (Fall 2015)
One of Eritrea’s most downtrodden Muslim minorities, the Afars live on the margins of the country’s exploding refugee crisis and are rarely reported on by Western media, though thousands have fled to Djibouti, Yemen and Ethiopia. This article explores who they are and traces their recent experience across the Horn of Africa.
REVIEW: Sandy Tolan’s “Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land”
Middle East Report, No. 2716 (Fall 2015)
Tolan weaves together two tales of heroism and courage: In the late 1980s, a boy from an impoverished West Bank refugee family fights to realize his dream of making music and sharing its liberating beauty, and a conquered community wages a largely nonviolent campaign for freedom and independence. But over the years, the story arcs diverge as the boy triumphs over monumental obstacles to realize his vision, while the community runs up against the overwhelming force of its occupiers and the bitter betrayals of its externally-based “representatives.” The book is thus both an inspiring account of personal resilience and a requiem for the “two-state solution.”
Refugee Journeys: Two Eritreans in Sudan
Foreign Policy in Focus (August 14, 2015)
Neema and Afrah, Muslim women from Eritrea’s from the Blin minority on the western shoulder of the central plateau, fled Eritrea a year apart. Today, they live in a small mud-brick house on the outskirts of Khartoum, the Sudan capital, together with Neema’s husband and young daughter. Both women dream of reaching Europe.
Eritrean Refugees Trek through the Americas
Middle East Report, No. 275 (Summer 2015)
Hundreds of Eritrean refugees each year seek safe haven in the United States by entering through the backdoor—flying to South Africa and traveling overland through Central America and Mexico, often at great personal risk, to ask asylum once they reach the U.S border. I followed their path from Ecuador to Fort McAllen, Texas, to get their stories.
Eritreans Stranded in Hostile South Africa
Mail & Guardian (June 6, 2015)
Eritreans who fled political or religious persecution, forced labor and arbitrary imprisonment over the past 15 years, find themselves targets of anger and hate merely for being foreigners. Knowing South Africa’s history of struggle for justice and equality, many Eritreans came expecting a different reception.
Eritrea: “Take me to prison—they have food there.”
Mail & Guardian (March 6, 2015)
Stripped of a chance to pursue his own education and sent by the state to teach in a dysfunctional rural primary school , Binyam risked everything to escape Eritrea and make a new start in Kenya. Though he has so far succeeded, he, like many I spoke with, said he would go home in a minute, but only if the government changed.
An Eritrean in Israel
Foreign Policy in Focus (February 2015)
Kifle’s father was killed in Eritrea’s independence war. His mother, also a fighter, was assigned elsewhere, so he was raised by the liberation front. Eight years after their victory, he was taken for national service and trained as a military policeman, but five years on, with no end in sight, he tried to flee, was caught and sent to prison. Six months later he escaped, went first to Ethiopia, then to Sudan and eventually to Israel. Today, seven years since he arrived, he is back in detention, classified not as a refugee but as an “infiltrator” and threatened with deportation. His experience is not unusual.