Eritrea won't shorten national service despite migration fears

Feb 29, 2016 Eritrea’s information minister, Yemane Ghebremeskel, recently affirmed his country’s decision to improve the salaries of those in national service. He also added that there was no plan by the government to reduce the duration of the national service for fears of Ethiopian aggression.

Speaking to this effect, he said:

“Under normal conditions national service is only 18 months, meaning people do not have any obligations of any kind military or civilian once they do their national service. But in the event of war then anybody and everybody eligible can be mobilized again. What has happened is we have had war, people were mobilized for the war. We had a peace treaty, we signed the peace treaty, but the peace treaty has not been implemented,” 

Eritrea, which sits on the Red Sea coast next to one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, won independence after decades of conflict. It has constantly pressed on world powers to push Ethiopia to accept an arbitration ruling on demarcating their boundary.

Referencing this, Ghebremeskel went on to say:

“Our land continues to be occupied; there is continuous threat from Ethiopia so we have no alternative but to prolong the national service,”

Tsige Gabrehiwist, an Eritrean migrant in Tel Aviv, said she was told that the national service in the military was for just 18 months. However, three years later when she saw no end in sight, she left.

“I left Eritrea because of the regime in general but I left especially, me I was in the army for three years. I didn’t see that they were going to release me,” she said. “I was supposed to have finished my military service in one year and six months. And also the treatment in the military army, it was very bad just we are working for the commanders. I was being like cooking and washing clothes for the commanders. So I see myself that still continue in the army,” 

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