Information about Eritrea
After independence from Italian colonial control in 1941 and 10 years of British administrative control, the UN established Eritrea as an autonomous region within the Ethiopian federation in 1952. Ethiopia's full annexation of Eritrea as a province 10 years later sparked a violent 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating government forces. Eritreans overwhelmingly approved independence in a 1993 referendum. ISAIAS Afworki has been Eritrea's only president since independence; his rule, particularly since 2001, has been highly autocratic and repressive. His government has created a highly militarized society by pursuing an unpopular program of mandatory conscription into national service, sometimes of indefinite length. A two-and-a-half-year border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 ended under UN auspices in December 2000. A UN peacekeeping operation was established that monitored a 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) created in April 2003 was tasked "to delimit and demarcate the colonial treaty border based on pertinent colonial treaties (1900, 1902, and 1908) and applicable international law." The EEBC on 30 November 2007 remotely demarcated the border, assigning the town of Badme to Eritrea, despite Ethiopia's maintaining forces there from the time of the 1998-2000 war. Eritrea insisted that the UN terminate its peacekeeping mission on 31 July 2008. Eritrea has accepted the EEBC's "virtual demarcation" decision and repeatedly called on Ethiopia to remove its troops. Ethiopia has not accepted the demarcation decision, and neither party has entered into meaningful dialogue to resolve the impasse. Eritrea is subject to several UN Security Council Resolutions (from 2009, 2011, and 2012) imposing various military and economic sanctions, in view of evidence that it has supported armed opposition groups in the region.
Since formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced many economic problems, including lack of resources and chronic drought, which have been exacerbated by restrictive economic policies. Eritrea has a command economy under the control of the sole political party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). Like the economies of many African nations, a large share of the population - nearly 80% - is engaged in subsistence agriculture, but the sector only produces a small share of the country's total output. Since the conclusion of the Ethiopian-Eritrea war in 2000, the government has expanded use of military and party-owned businesses to complete President ISAIAS's development agenda. The government has strictly controled the use of foreign currency by limiting access and availability; new regulations in 2013 have slightly relaxed currently controls. Few large private enterprises exist in Eritrea and most operate in conjunction with government partners, including a number of large international mining ventures that have recently begun production. While reliable statistics on food security are difficult to obtain, erratic rainfall and the percentage of the labor force tied up in national service continue to interfere with agricultural production and economic development. Eritrea's harvests generally cannot meet the food needs of the country without supplemental grain purchases. Copper, potash, and gold production is likely to drive economic growth over the next few years, but military spending will continue to compete with development and investment plans. Eritrea's economic future will depend on market reform, international sanctions, global food prices, and success at addressing social problems such as illiteracy and low skills.
Issues in Eritrea
Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to abide by 2002 Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission's (EEBC) delimitation decision, but neither party responded to the revised line detailed in the November 2006 EEBC Demarcation Statement; Sudan accuses Eritrea of supporting eastern Sudanese rebel groups; in 2008 Eritrean troops moved across the border on Ras Doumera peninsula and occupied Doumera Island with undefined sovereignty in the Red Sea
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
10,000 (border war with Ethiopia from 1998-2000; it has not been possible to confirm whether remaining IDPs are still living with hosts or have been returned or resettled) (2009)
Trafficking in persons:
Eritrea is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and, to a lesser extent, sex and labor trafficking abroad; the country's national service program is often abused to keep conscripts indefinitely and to force them to perform labor outside the scope of their duties; each year large numbers of migrants, often fleeing national service, depart Eritrea in search of work, particularly in the Gulf States, where some are likely to become victims of forced labor; Eritrean children working in various economic sectors, including domestic service, street vending, small-scale manufacturing, garages, bicycle repair shops, tea and coffee shops, metal workshops, and agriculture may be subjected to conditions of forced labor; some Eritrean refugees from Sudanese camps are extorted and tortured by traffickers as they are transported through the Sinai Peninsula
Tier 3 - Eritrea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the Eritrean Government does not operate with transparency and has published neither data nor statistics regarding its efforts to combat human trafficking; the government did not report prosecuting or convicting any traffickers and did not identify or refer any victims to protective services in 2012; authorities largely lack an understanding of human trafficking, confusing it with all forms of transnational migration from Eritrea; the government made its first-ever efforts to prevent trafficking, warning about the hazards its citizens faced when attempting to migrate abroad (2013)