The Eritrean regime prefers to have the families of diplomats appointed abroad to stay inside Eritrea as a collateral against diplomats abandoning their positions and asking for asylum, thus embarrassing the regime.
Ahferom Berhane, Eritrea’s former Consul General to Canada, is one of many ex-diplomats milling around Asmara doing nothing and getting paid for it. He was frozen in Eritrea after his family applied for political asylum in Canada.
Similarly, Saleh Omer, the Eritrean ambassador to Kenya fired Alem Tekheste, the Director of Consular affairs, because he brought his wife and children to Nairobi without the permission of the ambassador. The ambassador expelled Alem from his job and evacuated him from his embassy paid flat in which he lived until the ambassador discovered he has his family with him.
The need to separate appointees from their families, who are used as “human shield” to dissuade PFDJ diplomats from seeking asylum in host countries, was the main reason that the Eritrean foreign ministry held its annual meeting with the regional ambassadors in Cairo for the first time. Fourteen ambassadors from North Africa and the Middle East attended the meeting.
According to an e-mail sent to several Eritrean websites, a source indicated that Yemane Gebreab, the political director of the ruling party as well as special advisor to President Isaias Afwerki, led the three-day diplomatic orientation in Cairo. Osman Saleh, the minister of foreign affairs, left the meeting a few hours after it was convened.
Meanwhile, Gedab News has learned that American authorities are investigating several violations by the Eritrean embassy staff (both in New York and Washington) regarding movement restrictions that have been imposed on them and visiting Eritrean diplomats. Eritrean Ambassadors to the UN and the US and visiting officials are not allowed to move outside a 25 mile radius from their offices. Included in this investigation is Yemane Gebreab’s secret trip to Washington, DC when he came to attend the UN General Assembly session, as well as a video conferencing he conducted with Young People’s Front for Democracy & Justice (Y-PFDJ), a youth organization he created.
Along with nine Somalis, Yemane Gebreab was classified as a “extraordinary threat” to American national security by a presidential decree (Executive Order 13536) issued by President Obama in April 2010.