Eritrean Journeys

Thousands of Eritreans have fled a harsh dictatorship over the past decade, making the new nation one of the world’s largest per capita producers of refugees. To reach a safe haven they risk capture and imprisonment in Eritrea, kidnapping and torture by human traffickers, anonymous deaths on perilous desert and sea crossings, and more. Then comes the disheartening struggle to gain asylum in countries looking for an excuse to refuse them refugee status. Yet still they come. These are their stories, with names changed at their request out of fear of retribution against their families.

Bereket’s talent and passion got him into the national struggle. They also forced him to leave. He is doing well in South Africa today, but he and his wife Feven are ready to go home at the drop of a hat—if they can be sure things have changed.
Jamal grew up in a deeply patriotic family that taught him the value of service to the people. But when he tried to stay true to these values, he got into trouble with the authorities. The second time was the tipping point.
Ruth did everything she was asked to serve her country—except to renounce her faith.
Raised in Ethiopia, relocated to Eritrea and called for national service, then jailed when he stayed home, Abraham, now in Kenya, struggles to know who he is, what to do next, and where to go. With a passport, he says, "I will just run."
When Tesfazion, an Orthodox Christian from a deeply conservative household, stood up for his religious convictions, he found himself in a political minefield from which there was no exit—except flight from the country he loved.
Mohamed survived a desert crossing and a last-second sea rescue only to get stuck in a camp outside Calais known as "the jungle" with no idea where to go next.
Harassed and threatened for practicing his religion, Islam, Mussa fled to Sudan, flew to Turkey, caught a boat to Greece, and walked through the Balkans.
When Saba's husband fled his national service, she was threatened with arrest. As she had no idea where he was, she left to find him, only to be kidnapped, robbed, & abused in Libya, which had descended into anarchy.
Abinet quietly served her country for six years, but when she joined a banned church, she was arrested, interrogated, threatened, released, and then shadowed in a clumsy attempt to identify other congregants.
Fessahaye spent 18 years in National Service, but declined to join the ruling party and paid the price.