Additional information Eritrea

Situation in Eritrea


Eritrea is located in northeastern Africa along with the Red Sea coast. The country borders Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti.

The population of Eritrea is about 3.63 million in January 2022.

According to estimates studies in 2010, the main ethnics are the following: 55% Tigrinya, 30% Tigre, 4% Saho, 2% Kunama, 2% Rashaida, 2% Bilen, and 5% other (Afar, Beni Amir, Nera). Regarding the religions according to the current statistics, 62.9% are Christian and 36.6% are Muslim (Sunni).

After years of war, uncertainty and hostility between Eritrea and Ethiopia, a peace treaty was achieved in June 2018. In 1993 Eritrea achieved formal independence from Ethiopia. Despite the independence, the daily life of Eritreans is affected by the conflict with Ethiopia and the international sanctions imposed by the international community. In 2021, 65% of the population live in rural areas based their life on subsistence agriculture.

Since Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace pact in July 2018, the migrant routes have changed. Before 2018 most Eritrean migrants planned to move to Europe across the unsafe route through Libya and the Mediterranean sea.

Nowadays, refugees from Eritrea often go to Uganda. From there, they have the opportunity to continue their trip by car or by bus. Commonly, they avoid the regular borders, in these cases, they can stay hidden for months and years. Often Eritreans try to leave at the port of Mersa Gulbud, taking a boat in order to arrive in Sudan. Comparing the several most used routes, the journey in a boat over the Red Sea is safer than the route by land, because there are many risks such as meeting the military, being sold as slaves, or being expatriated by the Sudanese authorities.

Usually, from Sudan, the Eritreans try to reach the Mediterranean Sea crossing, from south to north, Sudan and Egypt. From here they start the famous and dangerous journey by boat in order to arrive for example in South Italy. Some Eritreans also take a plane from Sudan to North America or South America (such as Uruguay).

The people flee from Eritrea mainly due to the following issues: political persecution, rape or forced labor. Most of the refugee camps are located in developing countries, especially in Africa. Just a small percentage of Eritreans that try to reach Europe. Most of the Eritreans who flee from their country are hosted in Ethiopia and other African countries. In 2019 486, 200 Eritreans were displaced, specifically the countries which hosted these vast numbers of refugees were: Ethiopia (164,600 refugees), Sudan (108, 20 refugees) and Germany (49,300 refugees).

(2) Refugee route

Many times families take the decision to make the journey separately, because it is safer. Often, they choose to start the trip at different times, sometimes spending years without meeting each other.

Regarding the specific route across Libya, Eritreans often are aware of how the journey via this country can be dangerous and expensive, therefore some choose to carry out the following strategy: one person, could be both woman or man, stays behind in Sudan, waiting for his/her partner safely completed the trip with the aim to earn enough money for the second journey.

For all people who try this route, from Eritrea to Europe, the Capital of Sudan, Karkotu, is one of the most important cities. Here, it is very common to keep in contact with one or more smugglers. The analyses say that they need to pay between 600 and 1000 dollars to reach Libya and and then Europe.

Map of the route