SVP Councilor Geissbühler traveled through Eritrea and finds «Everyone has enough to eat, are well-groomed and well-dressed»
The SVP Senator Sabina Geissbühler-Strupler traveled several weeks through Eritrea. She writes about her experiences at BLICK. SABINA GEISSBÜHLER-STRUPLER
ERITREA – THOUSANDS flee yearly from Eritrea and ask for asylum in Europe – also in Switzerland. Cope? SVP Grand Master Sabina Geissbühler looked at the situation on the ground. Read here their impressions.
Software Translation from German
www.blick.ch |May 10, 2017
As a member of the Security Commission of the canton of Berne, I had to deal with credit increases for the support of young Eritreans in recent years.
This led me to organize an independent trip to Eritrea . I bought a map, drew up my planned round trip, reckoned the day trip kilometers, which I wanted to take part in a bicycle. For years I have been exploring foreign countries by bicycle. So I can stop where I want and make the best contact with the population.
Unfortunately, this project did not come about for various reasons. In the highlands, the rainy season began, and trucks from the capital Asmara (2300 m above sea level) to Massawa, transport the mineral deposits to the port of the Red Sea. That is why this route would have been dangerous.
Also my program was very crowded, so I was finally glad to travel with a car. My initial disappointment soon disappeared as well, because I was allowed to be with the ministers and sports officials on the large grandstand at the Giro Asmara, an important Velorenne.
Hundreds of spectators applauded the cyclists, women brewed coffee and offered us in large baskets popcorn and cereal grains. In Eritrea, sport has a very high value; We think of the personalities such as Bereket Yemane, Daniel Teklehaimanot, or Samson Gebreyohannes.
Before I left I had contact with Eritreans, who have long been in our country. Like the snowfall principle, I received addresses from local people, hospital and school leaders. Travel companions were also recommended, because such a request would dispense with the National Service and give them additional merit.
Although on the map in the cities hotels are marked, it was only in the capital city Asmara possible to book a first night via Internet. Also, I was disappointed by the communication that some of my dream destinations could not be visited for security reasons. My family was visibly worried about this adventurous journey to the “rogue state,” where hundreds of unscrupulous citizens disappeared.
When I boarded the plane to Asmara in Dubai, I thought of myself as the only white without a headscarf or Niqab like an exotic. The travelers were packed with plastic bags and suitcases – as they later turned out to be, goods sold in Eritrea in small shops or on the street. I arrived at Asmara at 6:30 am, moved into the Italian colonial Albergo Italia, and was looking for ways to find “victims” for my prepared interviews.
I sat down to mostly young locals on the stairs to the Orthodox Church, to the Asmara Café or put me to Wartenden at a bus stop. Most of the time, I had suspicious looks. But even with the word selam (salü), the ice was usually broken. I said next that I come from Switzerland, the eyes of the conversation partners beamed.
Yes, they had friends, relatives in Heaven Switzerland or Paradise Switzerland and they had good jobs and would make a lot of money. Then they also mentioned that there were minibuses on the border with Sudan and many Eritrean families were collecting money for tugs, and then the young Eritreans would go abroad.
Families already resident in Switzerland also provided financial assistance to allow traders to be paid for. The family members hoped that the “parents” would be able to make money in Switzerland as soon as possible, or if a family would be able to move in.
Older people complain that they had led and won a 30-year-old liberation war against the great neighbor of Ethiopia under the present President, Jsayas Afewerki, and many young people were cut off. In fact, the Security Council would finally have to implement Ethiopia’s compliance with the peace treaty concluded in Algiers in 1991.
The much-debated national service looks as follows: After twelve school years, the young people are separated by sex into a six-month militia training session in Sawa.
After these six months, they all go to school for six months at the same place and then conclude with an exam. The approximately 20 percent of the best are allowed to start a study, which is about 30 percent the worst assigned to the military service and the majority between is used depending on the ability in the national service, ie in jobs created by the state like office, service personnel or in small enterprises.
This means that there is hardly any unemployment, that all have enough to eat and access to fresh water. I have not seen any addicts or neglected. What is striking: almost all are well-groomed and well-dressed.
In Internet cafés, but also on TV (eg BBC) information from all over the world can be received, also mobile phones are very common. When visiting schools, hospitals or health centers in rural areas I was able to convince myself of a high quality.
Child mortality is very low compared to other African countries, measles and polio are eradicated. Laws prohibit genital mutilation of girls and the marriage of under-18s. There is religious freedom: Christians and Muslims (around 50 per cent each) live peacefully together, and the social gradient is low.
There are markets in the country, the most attractive is in Keren. Above all, animals are also traded here. My local guide bought a goat. It should be transported together with the four legs in the trunk for three hours. I was able to make sure she could stand beside me in the car and get food and water for her last trip.
In the evening the whole clan was invited to the feast. Familiarity in the family is central. That is why the tragic separation of the children from their parents, their home and culture, as well as the risks on the long journey, became intolerable.
Switzerland has to stop the miserable supply of children and the trappings. With financial assistance on the ground, for example with the introduction of our dual vocational training, we must take our responsibility. “
Thus, the Confederation sees the situation in Eritrea
Torture, arbitrariness, labor
For years, the situation in Eritrea has given rise to heated discussions, the situation is unclear. According to the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), it is an “autocratic one-party state with very limited freedom of expression and freedom of the press”.
Since independence, the country has been governed by Isaias Afewerki and his “People’s Front for Democracy and Justice”. Since then no elections have taken place, the freedom of religion and the press is severely restricted.
According to SEM, governmental critics are usually “imprisoned” with family members without any procedure or notice. Conditions of detention are precarious, resulting in torture and other human rights abuses.
For a long time asylum seekers from the country on the Horn of Africa were almost automatically allowed to stay in Switzerland. For people who denied the “National Service” are being persecuted. According to data from the SEM, this is still today unlimited and the pay is small. The service can take countless years.
The location and content of the service can not be chosen by young people. This lack of prospect causes many young Eritreers to escape, writes the SEM.
However, in June 2016, the Authority changed its practice against Eritreans. According to him, the illegal exit from Eritrea “no longer leads to the granting of refugee status”, says Lukas Rieder.
For Eritreans, who neither denied the national service nor were descended from it, would scarcely have to fear “serious disadvantages”. Either way, however, each individual case is “carefully examined,” asserts Rieder.
Sabina Geissbühler is not the first SVP representative to clarify the situation on the spot. A little more than a year ago, for instance, vice president Thomas Aeschi stayed in the country for a few days – and provided explanations for violent controversies.