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A HOSTAGE NATION

By Samuel Sam, published on 01 Nov 2019

Eritrea, found in the Northeast of Africa is a beautiful country containing one of the best colonial architectural structures in the world. It is dominated by extension of Ethiopian north-south trending highlands, descending on the east to a coastal desert plain, on the northwest to hilly terrain and on the southwest to flat-to-rolling plains. Scattered over a vast area of the Red Sea, they’re more than 350 Eritrean islands, among which more than 200 islands belong to the Dahlak Archipelago. The national parks of Eritrea are some of the best places for indulging in the natural beauty of Africa. The country is bordered by Sudan to the west, Ethiopia to the south and Djibouti to the southeast.
Born on the 2nd of February 1946, Isias Afwerki stands as the first and current president who has been ruling for 26 years. He led the Eritrean’s People's Liberation Front (EPLF) to victory in May 1991, ending the 30-year-old war for independence. He is also the leader of Eritrea's sole legal political party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ).
Eritrea has faced and endured many challenges over time, such as no freedom for the press, little or no freedom of movement and the dire consequences that come with opposing or challenging the government. These are just a few examples that have led its citizens further away from patriotism.
Like a country held hostage, Eritreans have suffered for the past years due to the Eritrean government led by its president Isias Afwerki. He has been cited for human rights violations by the United Nations and Amnesty International. The nation which gained independence from Ethiopia after 30 years of war, which is Africa’s longest liberation war, experienced worse conditions under a new regime led by him. He had an electric personality that was so focused on power which defeated the meaning and purpose of democracy. In this period, the people soon came to find out that in the encasement of a very charming fellow laid a terrible personality. The government lost confidence in every single person and everyone was considered a suspect thus putting spies at every corner of the country.
The country which has an estimated army personnel of 400,000 soldiers, which is a result of thousands of the Eritreans being removed from their jobs and forced to join the army, is considered to be the most militarised nation in the world. The main roles of the army in Eritrea is defence from external aggressors, border security, and developing national cohesion. It is also one of the world’s worst human abusers, with thousands getting imprisoned in secret and without trial, tortured and killed. While some were held in shipping containers with 50 degree heat others were held in solitary confinements or underground cells with minimal food and water. This led to thousands of hundreds of people fleeing the country. This termed hard as it was illegal for one to leave the country without the government’s permission.
In the year 2000, the two countries, Ethiopia and Eritrea, signed the Algiers Agreement which entailed agreeing to submit to binding arbitration to resolve boundary and compensation questions. The result was a frozen conflict state of no war and no peace which led to prolonged tensions between the two countries. Each country accused the other of hosting terrorist movements that were aimed at inciting regime change thus both remaining closed societies.
Despite all the challenges experienced throughout all these years, Eritrea made peace with Ethiopia, where the leaders of these two countries, Isias Afwerki and Abiy Ahmed, signed a joint declaration on 9 July, formally ending the border conflict between both countries, restoring full diplomatic relations, and agreeing to open their borders to each other for persons, goods and services. The joint statement was also considered to close all chapters regarding the Eritrea Ethiopian War.
 
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