A still image from the new documentary “Escaping Eritrea,” of a refugee camp along the border with Ethiopia. The ongoing exodus is one of several human rights crises in the east African nation.

5 Human Rights Crises in Eritrea

500,000 Refugees, ‘Slavery-like’ Compulsory Service, No National Elections, Border Conflicts & Secret Prisons: 5 Human Rights Crises in Eritrea

MAY 4, 2021

Isolated from the world by President Isaias Afwerki’s 30-year authoritarian rule, the east African nation of Eritrea remains intentionally unknown.

“It’s impossible, or very difficult, to get an accurate picture, because the government has closed the country so effectively that even those who have successfully fled the country are afraid to speak publicly, out of fear for what could happen to their families,” said Adotei Akwei, an Amnesty International deputy director who specializes in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the new FRONTLINE documentary Escaping Eritrea, filmmaker Evan Williams explores the human rights landscape of one of the world’s most repressive regimes, from compulsory conscription to the ongoing exodus of refugees. The Eritrean government declined to respond to FRONTLINE, other than to say they’d seen many fabricated stories before. Here is an introduction to five of Eritrea’s biggest human rights crises.


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