‘In Libya, We Were all Eritreans,’ Recounts Ethiopian Survivor and Journalist

Mainstream media keep referring African migrants as Eritrean migrants. Honest mistakes or ?
Mainstream media keep referring African migrants as Eritrean migrants. Honest mistakes or ?

By TesfaNews,

Henok Alemayehu, founder and editor of Ethiopian newspaper “Zehabesha “, today wrote on his blog what Eritreans have been telling time and again about the rise of ‘Ethiopian migrants’ disguised as Eritrean.

Alemayehu, in his eyewitness account from inside Libyan prison cells while he was one of the thousands of ‘African Migrants‘ who dares to cross the Sinai and Mediterranean just to reach Europe, said he totally don’t believe recent media reports of an “All Eritrean” deaths from a disaster just happened off the Southern Italian Island of Lampedusa.

While recalling his own personal experience as an ‘Ethiopian Migrant‘ in Libya, Alemayehu recounts that many African migrants, especially those from Ethiopia, would like to assume Eritrean identity in the hope for easing their asylum application process.

Once the traffickers drop you off in Libya [after being smuggled through the Sahara desert] they tell you to insist as Eritrean to avoid forceful return back to Ethiopia”, recalls Henok.

He also wrote that there were dozens of Ethiopian migrants detained with him in various prison cells inside Libya like in Bengazi, Tripoli, Kufra, and Ajdabiya and the only reason he is alive today is because he remained detained in prison as those who claim “Eritrean” got their temporary asylum to later jump on to the next available boat to ultimately cut their long and perilous  journey short with tragedy.

“Therefore,” he said concluding his truth-to-be-told account, “what I believe is that there must have been so many Ethiopians among the victims of the Lampedusa tragedy and simply putting them as an “all Eritrean” victims is not true and appropriate.”

Here is an interview made by another Ethiopian journalist Kinfu Assefa with one of the Ethiopian survivors narrating his ordeal and the loss his many Ethiopian friends in the Lampedusa migrant incident.

... I have lost many of my Ethiopian friends in the Lampedusa disaster
… I have lost many of my Ethiopian friends in the Lampedusa disaster

Below is what he has posted on his website today about the above story and to retain its originality, I posted it on an image format. Click here to read it direct from the source.

"In Libya prison and refugee camps, We are all Eritreans" - Ethiopian migrant and survivor
“In Libya prison and refugee camps, We were all Eritreans” – Ethiopian migrant and survivor Journalist Henok Alemayehu

(Last updated on 08 Sep 2013)
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43 thoughts on “‘In Libya, We Were all Eritreans,’ Recounts Ethiopian Survivor and Journalist

    1. ከሜዲትራንያኑ የባህር አደጋ የተረፈው ኢትዮጵያዊ አጭር የቪዲዮ ምስክርነት

      ጋዜጠኛ ክንፉ አሰፋ የሰሃራ በረሃን አቋርጠው በሊቢያ ወደ ጣሊያን ከሚሄዱትና፤ ከሰሞኑ አደጋ ከተረፉት ኢትዮጵያውያን እና ኤርትራውያን መካከል አንዱን አነጋግሮታል። አጭር ምስክርነቱን እናካፍላችሁ። ይህ ቃለ ምልልስ በሰሞኑ በላምፔዱዛ ያለቁትን ወገኖች ሱማሊያውያን እና ኤርትራውያን ብቻ ናቸው የሚለውን ስህተት መሆኑን የሚያጠናክር፤ ዘ-ሐበሻ ኤርትራውያን ነን የሚሉት ኢትዮጵያውያንም ናቸውና በአደጋው የኢትዮጵያውያንም ሕይወት ጠፍቷል የሚለውን መረጃ የሚያጠነክር ነው፦ https://www.zehabesha.com/amharic/archives/8136

      [youtube 05dBIYSrduU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05dBIYSrduU youtube]

    2. I am an Eritrean living in Italy. I am very ashamed of you, my beloved Eritreans those who accuse the Western countries as the cause of the Eritrean political crisis. Shame on you, pls open your eyes. Can not you see how our neighbour countries are growing fast? Eritrea is precipitating. The cause is not certainly US but isaias afewerki (criminal). I do not care how many eritreans or ethiopians are dead in Lampedusa. I care 310 lives lost their lives in Lampedusa. It is time to THINK AS A mature HUMAN BEING, the life of a young ethiopian is the same as the life of an eritrean. IT IS RIDICULOUS TO THINK THAT WASHINGTON HAS ORGANIZED THE DISASTER, IT IS SCHIZOFRENIC (DELIRIUM). WE HAVE TO DO EFFORT TO MAKE PEACE WITH ETHIOPIA, IT IS FOR OUR INTEREST, TO IMPROVE OUR ECONOMY (COMMERCIAL….). ICH BIN EIN BERLINER. Do you remember who said that phrase?? JFK!!!! TODAY I WOULD SAY "ICH BIN EIN ETHIOPIAN!!! PLS MAKE PEACE NOT WAR/HATE…. GOD BLESS YOU

  1. If our Brothers and Sister claim “Eritrean” to get refugee documents in Europe/Australia or USA, how is that possible without Eritrean documents? Maybe you can claim whatever you want in first instance, but in the end of day thy request always for Original documents from Military ID or Birth certificate etc..

    1. No, u don't need any document. That is the whole point of asylum. All you have to say is you are running from persecution and there was not time to collect your IDs and documents. Basically – you have to fabricate some kind of tragedy that would grant you an assylum. Besides, Europe and USA already have decided to drain Eritrea of its youth, so any excuse would do – as long as 1) you claimed to be Eritrean 2) you say something bad about the Eritrean government.


  2. beka all these lies are to show Eritrea is not the only country suffering from bad governance but also Ethiopia. wey eskum emberdo Eritrawiyan ekum, neza chenawit alem si ezi kulu tibeb.

    1. አታ ደንቀሮ ፡ ንስኻ እካ ኤረትራዊ ኾይንካ።
      ከማኻን፡ ወዲ ከማኻን ስለ ዝሐዙዋ እያ እቲአ ሀገር ኤረትራ፡ ዓንያን፣ፈሪሳን ዘላ።
      አምበር ዶ አቲ ናትካ ኢንተሊጀንት ካብቲ ናይ ሰውነትካ ዋዒ ይበዝሕ አምበርዶ እዮ፧

    1. I am being sarcastic by the way. the reason is obvious. its because the shabia regime is brutal and oppressive. and the others around are better(relatively). In many countries if you say you are Ethiopian Asylum seeker, they will tell you, your country is stable and peaceful(of course relatively), go back..

      1. moderator, hell with you, this is not funny business like the way you put it. they give asylum easy to an eritrean because they want to bleed Eritrea of it's young citizens and they want to destroy them after they left home. and this is what we are witnessing right now. if you have a brain to process, yesterday there was a breaking news that came out of ethiopia , it says Eritreans in Tigray refugee camps riot because of the way the damn Agames handling their refugee settlement process. they hold the true Eritreans and they give all the settlement process to the Agamistans to leave to europe and america and now what we have here as an opposition members are all agamistans. you are too damb to know that or you are one of them.

        1. What I can't comprehend is, some Eritreans actually believe, the west are against them, or trying to hurt them, have you ever asked why? have you ever said "may be they are against the inhuman regime not against Eritrean", have you ever said "may be I am brainwashed with a propaganda of shabia". why would westerns have such a negative interest in a tiny country like Eritrea? of course dictators through out Africa should create a false external enemy(usually the west) to stay in power as much as they can and to silence internal discontentment. don't be paranoid, no one is against you.
          About what happened in Italy, I am still in shock, I know the Ethiopians are doing the same thing, probably they were in another boat. probably this time they just became a bit lucky. those in the boats weren't thinking about weyane or Shabia, one thing in their mind was living a better life and may be helping their family back home. whatever you say, my heart bleed for my brothers and sisters. but as for the article it is a pure propaganda.

          1. this is all just a joke!
            To think of this situation as is was made up by European leaders to take young citizens from Eritrea. The young citizens in Eritrea are just talking about life in Eritrea, there is no life in Eritrea. Me, myself, I would love to move back, start an company, employ poeple, help to build the country. WHAT IS HOLDING ME BACK?! Well actually, our financial system is enclosed and totally controlled by the goverment, there are no real laws, no real court system, no real tax system. There is only one man at the top, and everybody is thanking him infront of his face, but behind close doors, the reality is totally diffrent. I wish I could say that I do have a country, my own homeland and so on. But the reality is that I have nothing, I have family that I send money to, they way the money is sent is thru people who have money in Eritrea but can’t exchange it and let us people living outside Eritrea buy it from them. So in reality the previous rich people, entrepreneurs and such are cleaning out there own bank accounts in the country. At the end this will lead to a collapse, crime, killing and such. Is this really my own country?? This makes me a shame of telling people that I am from Eritrea, It sounds like it is North Korea! Well just writing about it makes me sad and angry at the same time, sad that I have nothing to say about it, sad that if I would let people know who I am, my family back home might suffer, sad that my own people are not thriving in a world with all the technology, meens and possibilities to build a strong nation. We could be one of the world economies hubs with factories and other man-made stuff. It makes me angry that one person is keeping the entire nation as hostage until he has played out his role as “president”, well he just lika Saddam Hussein, an dictator that rape young girls and such. My wishes for Isias at the moment is nothing but pure pain and suffering, but what is that for a man that has caused so much pain and suffering for a nation. Killing him is not suffient, making him suffer is suffient, I think, him living in a prison until death and watching the country he has hold hostage for de last 20 years thriving and progressing would be pain and suffering enough. This man is addicted to controll, by depriving him of that is pain and suffering enough!

            Over N out

          2. Yeah you seem to be Over for real And Out for sure. I have but one question for you . How do yo figure those nations in Europe and else where , who we see complaining about refugees and tightening their asylum rules every month are the same nations which are members of the UN and EU , which in turn are " Supposed' to be part of the guarantees of the Boarder demarcation & Implementation Ruling . Does it make sense to you Mr. AWC-OL , that while you can avoid overflow of refugees into your nation, prevent suffering of people in the hands of smugglers , etc , by getting a peace deal you brokered to be enforced , would you rather cry and complain about being overwhelmed by refugees instead of addressing the root cause of all this ? there are forces at work here and if you can't comprehend this simple logic either your elevator doesn't go all the way up or u r a willing sleeper who doesn't want waking up.

          3. I think you have misread my reply.
            There is a root problem in Eritrea, ME as an eritrean feel that if this root problem could be resolved peacefully would be for the better good. Instead you are talking about other nations internationall responsibilties, this is not the end question. WE HAVE PEOPLE LEAVING ERITREA BECAUSE OF ERITREA, not because of let say "germany" has the greatest water in the world, or france has best economy! People are gambling with there own lifes to leave Eritrea. If the root problem is resolved, we would not have any other issues like this big boat accident. ignorance is bliss they say, I call that lucky, and I call you lucky as well…

          4. @AWC, i don't understand how you are not able to see the root cause of the problem ? were there any problem like this between 91 until 98 ? do you think all problems came because of how PIA leads the country ? We never had any disaster like what we witnessed for the last 10 years or so, you should open your eye and try to see clear. PIA is a blessing to Eritrea, if one of the haters become president in Eritrea, you would have seen all islands and coastlines would been sold to US and EU, and you would have been a slave like all the Africans you see in their own land. you can see Kenya, angola, south africa and so so. they are a laborer on their own diamond and gold land, not owning any business. even ethiopia you see all the fertile lands are being sold to other millionaires from asia and middle east. if thats what you wish to happen in eritrea then you are not eritrean or you are born moron. so please don't say this or that with out knowing facts on the ground. your stupidity is contributing to the loss of humanity. you need to educate yourself and analyze better.

          5. @ AWC-OL Teddy is telling you the real cause of the problem is the designed no peace no war policy of the enemy's. If you'nt able to comprehend this,then as Teddy says you're really over N out.

          6. Well, to be honest, it would be one of the greatest feeling to have an open dialog about this.

            But like I said in my first post, I am afraid of what harm/force/violence the sitting goverment would execute on my relatives. This is something I have seen with my own eye’s. Public opinion is not allowed in MY country, I have not been able to visit my country because of what I BELIEVE in. Is that really the right way to run a country? Do we as Eritrean, and people that lives in Eritrea have a better life then people in South Africa? I do not think so, neither do any normal thinking person.

            Eritrea could be a booming tourist hub for scuba divers, with the nice red sea.

            It could be a harbour hub for logistiks companies. It would give Eritrea an international opportunity.

            W’lad Eri: between 91-98 Eritrea was in the believe of that the TEMPORARIE president would setup an infrastructure of democracy. With a nation constitution, laws, tax system, separate goverment bodies and such. We are now at the situation for over +20 years. Do you really believe that people “buy” this bullshit over and over and over again? You must be blinded my friend and brother. We need to get united and free our nation for the greater good for our own people. The situation with one leader that does really and president is not doing us any good! We are standing still, not moving ahead, not progressing!

            Well I am in the believe of free speach and democracy, not everybody share this view in our country, that is the fact. The fact is that if you have another view then the sitting goverment right now, you are putting yourself and family at risk.

            My input is the reality, my people are leaving the country because of the opportunities presented elsewere in the world. A better life, a better healthcare system, better jobs, better way to provide to your own family, better schools, better social insurances. Does my country provide this to our new members of society that are between 18 – 30 years old? NO, they have the internet now, they can investigate them self and come to same conclusion that I have made. This is there own conclusion, not some propaganda by the goverment.

            It sickens me to my stomach to know that people in my own country are feeling “locked up” and they know that what ever wealth the can create thru good businesses, there money is locked in within the system. There are MANY steps that should and could be in progress for the greater good of the nation. But having controll and power is so addictive that the nations priorities become secondary compared with your own need to be in power and in controll!

    2. Tesfanews is quoting an Ethiopian journalist to make a point that all Eritreans know is which non – Eritreans claim to be Eritrean which inflates the numbers of “Eritreans” claiming asylum. Having an Eritrean name doesn’t make somebody Eritrean even speaking tigrinya doesn’t make you a Eritreans because tigray can speak Tigrinya.

      Thank you Tesfanews you doing a fantastic job exposing the excess of anti Eritrea propaganda.

      Thanks Awet ne hafash Awet ne Kubur President

  3. Tesfanews, what do u want to imply by posting this article? Do you want to tell us that it is not only Eritreans who succumb to death after the shipwreck in Lampesuda? I really do not understand? Eritreans at home and in diaspora are in deep mourning. This article will not bring comfort to any sensible Eritrean. TesfaNews,I feel you became callous to the tragedy heard from Lampedusa. No body can score any political point at this moment of mourning. You have to mind what you post!!!!

  4. አታ ሎምስ ኪንገድፎ ፡ አዲግን ፣ብዕራይ ኢልካ ምጽራፍ፡ ካብ አዲግን ፣ብዕራይ ዝገዱ ሰብ ስለ ዘለዉ።
    አታ ደናቁር ሰለምንታይ ድዬም ኤዉሮፓዉያን ኤረትራዉያን ስደተኛታት ዝቅበሉ ፡ ሰለምንታይ ፧
    እቲኦም አብ አሜሪካን፣ኤዉሮፓ ኮይንኩም ሀገርና ትምዕብል አላ ኢልኩም ዲግ ዲም ትብሉ ትሐድሩ ዘለኹም እሞ ሀገርኩም ተመለሱ፡ ነቲኦም ሐደሽቲ ምእንቲ ቦታ ኩኸኖም። ብዝተረፈ ግደፍዎ ኢኹም ወጃዕጃዕ፡ ዉርደትና ይአኽለና።

  5. I am Ethiopian, I felt so sad with the tragic accident. It doesn't matter who they are, they are daughters and sons to some mothers now crying. Today I told what happened to a friend of mine,. She started crying before I finish the story( she is Ethiopian). can't we just mourn the lose of our brothers without trying to score a poetical point here? this why I hate politics. in times I feel politicians are cold blooded. I don't think they care about the real people.

    1. I am Eritrean and i am in deep sadness and trying to make sense out of this senseless tragedy. some people are not born moron and some people are born evil, as i can understand from your opinion , you sound a very sensible person the problem for us Eritrean, this situation is not a one time incidence all our brother , sisters , uncle and aunts have gone through this kind of atrocity for the last 60 years and we are tired of the way things are enforced upon us by the westerns and their puppet, it would have been wise for both Eritrea and Ethiopia to come together for the benefit of their own people and to have compassion toward each other because as an Eritrean i never wish any evil things to happen to any ethiopian and i expect any reasonable ethiopian person to have that compassion toward any Eritrean. But the way it is with Ethiopian government thats is not what i am seeing, not that they haven't done wrong to their own people but if the border issue have been demarcated as the way the international court decided it, it would have been better for both of us , but USA is the one who doesn't want that to happen and it is sad ethiopian government is working agains it's own peoples interest.

  6. the point being made here is the TRUTH , because a lot of people are making the assumption that only Eritrean are migrating and dying , so this is to show that it is a wider problem of the whole Africa especially the horn …so let's give respect to our Ethiopian brothers too who perished .

  7. When young ppl die painful death it doesn't matter nationality it's sad. But Eritrean enemies using this to hammer Eritrea? No Eritrean person will allow that.

  8. It's very shame!!! At least have respect for the dead mr author. Weather you like it or not they all are eritreans. I don't even know why the media want to include somalia, out of the 153 survivors, all except one are eritreans. So on that proportion, we can easily tell that 99% of those who didn't make it are also eritreans. You will be ashamed on what you wrote sooner or latter, the list will knock the doors of eritrean families whohahave lost their young children on ground. If you wrote this thinking, they may not be able to identity them, you are mistake because the 153 survivors are good enough to tell who was there.

    1. @Respect . It should be you who should respect the dead and better be able to verify what you wrote. What Tesfanews is publishing ( it is an article written by an Ethiopian journalist ) is to give a proportional prospective to the world and maybe to ppl like you. You on the other hand seem to be pulling numbers and stats out of the air. Calm down and comprehend . As a recent resident of Sudan as a refugee, I can assure you that the number of Eritrean , Ethiopian and Somalians is roughly equivalent while on any given illegal route although I cant say for sure on this tragic incident but don't assume.

    2. @ Respect, u missed the very point of the article. Of those who survived and claim to be Eritreans many of them are Ethiopians, not that it matters btw. Your chances of a successful asylum is higher if you claim that you are an Eritrean; just and only because of how the west portrays the country.

  9. Leave politics aside for a moment. Regardless where you came from or who you are when this kind tragedy happen, it hurt so much. This s horrible very sad.
    R.I.P. for those one lost their life in this incident.

  10. A very Saddening and heartbreaking incident . A loss of a single Eritrean Life is Heartbreaking let alone our youth of whom a lot is expected of for them selves, their families and tier country. But its even worst to see some use this as a means to extend their political agenda & gather support which they are so desperately seeking. I say to you ; let the grieving people of Eritrea alone.

  11. For the first time in its history, the majority of Eritreans are UNITED agains the government and its stooges..Any day now. No whitewashing is gonna cover PFDJ's crimes against Eritreans. The victimes were Ethiopians now? I don't know what we are going to hear next from these desperados.

    1. @ fev , Lolll i have to assume you don't Know Eritrean history then. Eritreans inside and out have been united since its inception , except the bad apples we have here and there. Just because you failed in your attempt to create division doesn't mean the people were not united , They are united Against you but in a respectful way by keeping in mind that you are our bro/sisters and still have hopes for your return from whatever mistaken path you seem to be travelling on.

      1. To: Amiche, DeKi Hade Lebbi, Teddy Shedda, Weddi Asmara, Weddi Ghile,…

        Thank you for speaking the truth and keeping perspective.

        As if this tragic incident is not painful enough to the families who've lost their loved ones at such a young age and in such a horrible way (and to any human with a heart), a few individuals are trying to exploit this moment of great sadness to further their ill-conceived, evil agenda. Talk about 'adding insult to injury'!

  12. It is so sad that the loss of all African immigrants be it Eritrean Sudanese Ethiopian Nigerian Tunisian Somalian…. etc. they are human being. These lives should not be lost over all. The problem starts from the distorted information that is airing through to look like life in Europe is heaven. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact African migrants are living the worst kind of life in Europe. The beloved pets of the Europeans are better off than the unlucky African immigrants. The bottom line here whether you are Ethiopian Sudanese Eritrean Somalian they are dead. It does not make one proud if he or she has humanity in his or her blood we are talking about life. The young and the restless hoped to have better life and assist their beloved ones. Let us put aside the ugly thinking of he or she is not from my country. They are all human being like myself who have parents siblings wives husbands that they are mourning them now. Let's join on praying.

  13. All Africans. It doesnt matter which country. This is just because of our leaders can take of the people. Our leaders want to have the power but not responsibility. Do not blamera on other nonsens things. And be afraid this is not the last. Many Young steal waiting for the next boat.

  14. That was a fake interview, my friend who gives a fuck about that you Ethiopian or Eritrean? People dying around the world so just pray for those lost their lives. Stop using this for your propaganda. I have so many Eritrean friends and business partners and things never change between us!!!!!!! Fuck those Ethiopians or Eritreans extremist doing nothing for your country but talk none sense!!!!!!!

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