ICC Note: Eritreans represent the largest number of migrants in the global refugee crisis that are applying for asylum in the United Kingdom. The tiny East African nation on the banks of the Red Sea is one of the hardest places on earth to be a Christian. Not only does the government oppress the general population, ruling by fear of arbitrary imprisonment, torture and indefinite compulsory military service, but Christians are treated the worst. The government views believers who practice outside of the four state religions as enemies of the state, subjecting them to psychological torture and imprisonment inside metal shipping containers in the desert. The following report chronicles the journey of Eritreans trying to get to northern England for safety from persecution and oppression.
By Sally Hayden
2/20/16 Eritrea (VICE News) – It was twilight in the port town of Calais, France, when I last saw Birhan. As we spoke, his eyes darted from side to side. His brown hoodie smelled of tear gas. He had just eaten his only meal of the day.
“To live or die, it’s the same for us,” he told me at the time, explaining his determination to get to England, risking his life on the way.
Several days after I returned to London, Birhan messaged me saying he had made it through the Channel Tunnel. Now, two months later, I had taken the train 250 miles up to Middlesbrough to meet him.
When I arrived, it was raining. The train station seemed like a place that is permanently damp. A nurse smoked outside.