Mass Migration of Eritreans Is Not Entirely Due to ‘Pull’ Factors

cropped-2121By Teweldeberhan Gebre

Some Eritreans still struggle to distinguish the difference between Eritrea as a State and its poor leadership. Hence, for them criticizing the policies of the administration amounts damaging the image of Eritrea. Of course, the Eritrean regime has, for the last 25 or more years, been disapproving any critique of its misguided economic, social and political policies. For the regime in Eritrea critiquing its policies is an act of treason against the Eritrean State. Equating rational behavior and critique of citizens with treason is not exclusive to the Eritrean leadership but the typical behavior of all authoritarian regimes. 

Unfortunately, in the Eritrean political discourse, the logical fallacy of circular reasoning or circular arguments is a major challenge to bring fruitful discussions and positive changes in policies and in leadership. In a circular argument if the premise is correct the conclusion is also correct. For instance, if the premise ‘The President affirms mass migration is due to pull factors.’ Then, its conclusion that “mass migration is due to pull factors” is correct because the President says so. In essence, the other arguments for push factors of mass migration are entirely ignored, and the solutions for this national disaster should come from outside actors. Thus, we have to passively wait until the external pull factors change their course.

I am not naïve and denying the pull factors of mass migration of Eritreans though. My argument is that that mass migrations by young Eritreans despite its risks is a rational decision because the push factors including rampant poverty, lack of opportunities, and violations of fundamental human rights. I also argue that push factors for migration are entirely ignored and overlooked not only by the regime but also by some confused regime loyalists. Ignoring the push factors means we are willing to sacrifice our young people for a trashed political game, and definitely we will be regretting about its consequences.

In fact, the Eritrean regime encourages young people to migrate amass while it keeps accusing external actors of the mass migration of our youth. Some confused regime loyalists completely deny the push factors I mentioned above and still dwell in their circular reasoning. The question is should we be loyal to our country and people or to an authoritarian regime that advocates mass migration at the international forums? In his government’s statement for the UN General Assembly during the “High-Level Meeting on Large Movement of Migrants and Refugees” assembled on the 19th of September 2016 in New York, Mr. Yemane Ghebreab, outlined the solutions for the problems of mass migrations as:

  • To agree on the need and importance of, and provide meaningful avenues for, legal, safe and regular migration. It really is incongruous that in an increasingly globalized world, where much is done to advance the movement of goods and finance, human mobility is stridently opposed and essentially blocked. This needs to change as much of the current crisis and suffering could be significantly reduced by means of safe and orderly migration.
  • To protect and promote the rights and dignity of all migrants and to provide them with opportunities for education, skills training and jobs, without which they cannot lead a life of dignity.
  • To address the main perennial drivers of migration, including forced migration, which are growing global inequality, poverty and lack of development, violation of fundamental freedoms, as well as wars and conflict; and to take cognizance of other significant drivers such as demographic and climate change.

Here, Yemane is advocating for open border mass migration and according to him humans should be treated like commodities and finance in global trading. In other instances, the regime accuses the international communities for their covert and overt agendas of drying up Eritrea’s human resources and now openly asks for open border migrations. As a side note Eritreans are not even allowed to freely move within Eritrea, but the regime advocates free movement of people at the global levels. Ridiculous!

Interestingly, the double standard of the regime is clear from his second point when he talks about the protections and promotions of rights and dignities of all migrants. While it is appropriate to call for the protections and promotions of rights and dignities of migrants, I am not sure what kind of rights and dignities he was talking about while our citizens migrate in drove through unsafe routes because of the violations of their basic rights and dignities to lead decent life in their homeland. Not only that but also, Mr. Ghebreab called the international communities “to address the main drivers of migration, including forced migration, which are growing global inequality, poverty and lack of development, violation of fundamental freedoms, as well as wars and conflict; and to take cognizance of other significant drivers such as demographic and climate change.”

If his government was up to addressing the real drivers of migration why not address:

  • the rampant poverty and lack of economic prospects for young people?
  • the violations of fundamental freedom of work of young people in their chosen field and profession?, and
  • allow young people to exercise their rights of private and family life?

Does it mean Yemane is unaware of the main drivers of migration of Eritreans state above?

I enclosed the statement of Mr. Yemane Ghebreab to the “High Level Meeting on Large Movement of Migrants and Refugees” assembled on the 19th of September 2016 in New York, for any sensible Eritrean to judge about the official position of the regime on mass migration. Unless we are victims of the circular argument I mentioned above, from the statement of Mr. Ghebreab, in fact, the regime is pro-mass migration in its all forms and shapes. In fact, the regime and its loyalists should be held accountable for committing treason against the Eritrean nation state.

Statement by Mr. Yemane Ghebreab

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies,

Eritrea has played an active role in the preparations for this “Summit for Refugees and Migrants” because we believe it is an issue of vital importance for all peoples and nations of the world.

In Eritrea’s view, our goals must be:-

  1. To agree on the need and importance of, and provide meaningful avenues for, legal, safe and regular migration. It really is incongruous that in an increasingly globalized world, where much is done to advance the movement of goods and finance, human mobility is stridently opposed and essentially blocked. This needs to change as much of the current crisis and suffering could be significantly reduced by means of safe and orderly migration.
  2. To protect and promote the rights and dignity of all migrants and to provide them with opportunities for education, skills training and jobs, without which they cannot lead a life of dignity.
  3. To address the main perennial drivers of migration, including forced migration, which are growing global inequality, poverty and lack of development, violation of fundamental freedoms, as well as wars and conflict; and to take cognizance of other significant drivers such as demographic and climate change.

Eritrea believes that every nation has primary responsibility to provide a safe, secure and dignified life for its citizens in their country and to enable them to pursue opportunities in other countries. However, nations, and in particular developing nations, need support and solidarity to address the daunting challenges of ensuring peace and sustainable development. Meaningful global efforts are required to make our world more equal, fair and just. The propensity to seek unilateral economic, financial and trade advantages at the expense of developing countries, the resort to the violation of international law and national independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty in the pursuit of power politics, the imposition of unjustified pressures and sanctions must be firmly resisted. On the issue of refugees care must be taken to refrain from exploiting their plight and suffering against select countries in the pursuit of political goals and away from humanitarian considerations.

Mr. Chairman,

Given the fate of previous summits and solemn declarations, including on migration, it is understandable that many are skeptical about the outcome and impact of this gathering. It is, therefore, imperative that at the national and global arenas, at the level of governments, national institutions as well as regional and international organizations, we all shoulder our responsibilities to end the suffering associated with migration, to protect and promote the rights of migrants and to welcome human mobility as an integral and desirable feature of our globalized world.