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Diaspora Life: Eritreans Vulnerable at Home and in Switzerland

Swissinfo.ch   in  · ·
January 7, 2015

Arbitrary arrests and detentions, harsh prison conditions, no freedom of religion or expression – there are many reasons why Eritreans come to Switzerland, says a UN authority.

“The economic situation is not very good in the sense that they don’t see any future for themselves in the country,” Sheila B Keetharuth, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, said in an interview with Swiss public radio, RSI.

Some 4,000 people flee Eritrea every month, she said. About 20,000 live in Switzerland, home of Eritrea’s largest diaspora.

She also cited violations in the context of the national service, Eritrea’s form of military duty. Both men and women have to serve, and sexual abuse can be a problem.

“They are vulnerable to sexual advances – violations by commanders and peers,” Keetharuth said, adding that people doing their national service duty are often deployed to do non-military jobs, like working on farms or construction sites. It is unclear whether they are paid for this work.

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