ADDIS ABABA (HAN) May 30.2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. While admitting that Eritrea’s economic challenges during the last 18 years provided a reason for Eritreans to leave their country, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh, claimed illegal migration had become a politically motivated agenda serving as part and parcel of a larger campaign to vilify, isolate and destabilize Eritrea. Speaking at a ministerial level meeting on “Sustainability of Migratory Phenomenon: towards a new model of dialogue” in Rome, he said Eritrea’s youth were the target for a ” migratory conspiracy and protracted psychological warfare to lure them away from national defense and development responsibilities by attracting them to a promising “heavenly life”.”
He claimed “false and manipulated asylum cases” had been orchestrated and claimed a statement by President Obama in September 2012 corroborated this “conspiracy perpetuated to use Eritrean migration as a political tool.” Mr. Saleh said “sensationally manipulated statistics and the perceived number of Eritrean migrants frequently quoted by the UNHCR” had also become a tool of political disinformation to tarnish the image of Eritrea.
The Eritrean Foreign Minister called for a critical appraisal of the asylum system of recipient countries to redress the effects of pull factors and emphasized the importance of “continuing education and training, strengthening career structure and social mobility and transforming attitude and responsibility” in Eritrea. Despite hundreds of reports to the contrary, he said any Eritrean citizen had the inalienable right to return and “thousands have already returned voluntarily, thus exposing the myth and perception on the “fear of return and persecution”. Denying the reports of the UN Monitoring Group, he said Eritrea had been fighting human trafficking and that “many direct and indirect beneficiaries of this scourge have been brought to justice” He also added that “this criminal activity has the involvement of some countries, organizations, surrogate anti- Eritrean groups and pseudo-human right activists.” He stressed Eritrea’s under the Khartoum Process and the ensuing Valletta Declaration and Plan of Action, and said it would strengthen its engagement and cooperation at regional and international levels to uphold collective efforts to fight illegal migration and human trafficking. During the last week, over 10,000 refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy were rescued. The total number of refugees this year is now over 40,500, and another 1,370 have died in trying.