Eritrean youth fleeing military service, sluggish economy - Study

  • PDF

Addis Ababa, 9 August 2014 (WIC) – An ever-growing number of young people are escaping military service, weak job prospects and bad governance in Eritrea, Cedric Barnes, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, told RIA Novosti.

“The youth exodus from Eritrea is symptomatic of social malaise and growing disaffection with the Asmara regime,” Barnes, the think tank’s director for the Horn of Africa, said on Friday, upon the release of a study called Eritrea: Ending the Exodus?
“The state’s demand for the sacrifice of individual ambition to the greater good of the Eritrean nation – resigning oneself to, in effect, indefinite national service – causes more and more Eritreans to leave the country, even if that means risking their lives. Eritrea's government needs to accept that national service must be finite, and to work with international partners to build an economy that will create jobs,” Barnes added.

Eritrea has a population of 6.4 million and an average annual income of $1,200. Rights groups accuse the government of stifling free speech and running an open-ended military service, which was initiated in 1995 and expanded during the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia. (