The dangerous journeys that tens of thousands of Eritreans are making across desert and sea to Europe are a striking example of how restrictive migration policies are having a devastating impact on people seeking safety outside their countries of origin, says Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in a new report released today. Dying to Reach Europe: Eritreans in search of safety is based on the first-hand testimonies of refugees who have fled the small but highly militarised East African country, reporting a lack of freedom and forced military conscription for years or even decades. Defectors are at risk of being rounded up, imprisoned, tortured or killed.
Eritreans were the largest group crossing the Central Mediterranean to Europe in 2015, and the second largest after Nigerians in 2016. This is remarkable given that the total population of Eritrea is just five and a half million. Ninety percent of Eritreans who manage to reach Europe are granted asylum. Yet the routes to eventual safety are extremely dangerous and at times deadly.
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