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Lampedusa: Rage, Grief, Indignation Grips Eritrean Diaspora

On Thursday, October 3, nearly 500 immigrants crowded on a 60-foot long boat originating in Libya were shipwrecked in Lampedusa, Italy when, due to mechanical problems–and the subsequent actions taken by passengers to draw the attention of rescuers–the boat was set on fire.

Despite the efforts of Italy’s Coast Guard, hundreds are presumed dead.

The incident has shocked the conscience of Europe in general and Italy, specifically, which has provided it with the wall-to-wall media coverage it warrants and declared Friday October 4th as a day of mourning.

On Sunday, Italy’s largest daily paper, Republicca, published a list of survivors compiled by the immigration office of Italy.  This is what the list shows:

  • Of the 153 survivors, all but one (Tunisian) are Eritreans.
  • Of the 153 survivors, 5 are female and 148 are male.
  • The youngest of the survivors is 11 and the oldest is 44.
  • The median age of the survivors is 22.
  • The mean (average) age of the survivors is:  22
  • The mode (most frequently appearing) age of the survivors is: 20.

Based on the data of the survivors, it is not unreasonable to conclude that almost all of the dead and the missing are Eritreans in their early twenties.

The realization of the magnitude of the tragedy, combined with the news blackout in Eritrea, has resulted not just in sweeping grief, but also righteous indignation among the Eritrean Diaspora communities.  Feeding this moral indignation is the callousness and indifference of the Eritrean government whose representatives have yet to publicly comment on mass media accessible to Eritreans in Eritrea.

The Network of Eritrean Women (NEW) has joined the Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC) in demanding that “the bodies of the victims be returned back home for proper burials.”  NEW goes further to demand that “all Eritrean political organizations, civic associations, youth movements, women organizations and human right activists…send their representatives to Lampedusa.”
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  • Son Ermise
    Oh brother Ermais I can see your frastrution in this critical time that the unthinkable tragedy of our Eritrean citzenes dying in the coast of Italy.As most of us know this is n’t the first time the sea to swallow us,the desert to burn us into ashes.Also, the evil Isaias to jail,to kill us that as he wishes since he is joining the fronts. however,many of us that we know him as he is trouble maker with some mystery unknown in those days. Like Mr. Amanuel and others like myself we spoke of him as the now Dictator is some one evil man as he is now. We were working hard to stop this man before it is too late. We were working hard to weed him out inculding his peers that those who saw him like a god. But it happened to be the other way around, which wasn’t good for all of us. Now, Some of us we understood him from the early days and the rest or others with all the years to pass never understood him. Still there are people, poor people they think as he is fit for the job to govern the country least sad tosay. It should be conceren us the problem we are facing to day. Any one should think for what is good to our country before it’s too late. I believe we are in same camp. Looking for change and for better change of governance. And that should be as to day which is before to late, before lossing to many more incident like these. No more. Brother Ermise I can understand your frastrution. But why us, We work hard and paid a lot of golden lifes of our comrades in both fronts. But unfortunatly, we didn’t win. Because our people were singing and dancing with drums and harps in thier fronts and nothing elis except We Him and Him Us and the man got drank more and more .He said who cares Wedi Hidraat and like’s said I have fellowers so many of them LOOK QAuyla and Keboro.Then this evil man with fales promises and evil intention he brought many people to his side wit drums emotional songs.and he became god but not man of any kinds to lead the nation wit IRON GRIP. brother Ermise and others alike why bark on us we never warn you to bring down this evi DiYblos from day one.for god sake we shouldn’t be included in your list us we are use less in our stroggle even as today.You should be proud of us,that as a for front fighters to bring to por people and our lovely country Eritrea. Dear Ermise I am ready to sign the pettiyion you calling.As for me that is the easest thigs to do.But as Mr. Amanueladvice us . Do you think the dictatoris accept it.IwishDon’t yousee the draft of the constitution was trowen some where by the same dictator.Now the only thing remain not has been done is tomp rising our all Eritrean inside and out side the country to cast our voice, And the other option is to hit him hard if we have the HUmmer.

  • Berhe Tensea

    The only solution is to get rid of the regime in Asmara, other wise the herd will continue to be abused.
    People that seem to enjoy the abuse will continue to suffer, and be the laughing stock of the Temben regime.
    People get what they deserve. and if they deserve abuse so be it, till they wake and smell the coffee.

  • rut

    its really a tragic accident. and the pain with all of us concerned about our brothers and sisters. but the pain those children faced was unbearable for me! how many more days is this going to be repeated? how many lives are waiting to face the same chance?pls GOD HEAR our cries and give all Eritreans the strength to change their lives!!

  • aklis waga bekli

    the mentally crippled supporters of this ugly group of thieves called hgdef are waking up from their sleep of denial very slowly. Sadly with such incalculable dark costs to show them the light.

    Isaias is hiding now only behind his finger; unfortunately the only momentum sucking him surely to the black hole of the vortex is only coming from him. He has already started to see the eye of his mentor Gaddafi from edge of the hole deep in the beyond.

    The countdown has started……………and the day of reckoning is already here.

  • haile

    Cry Eritrea,

    “Victim of latest Lampedusa boat tragedy revealed to have been giving birth as she drowned after her corpse is found with baby boy still attached by umbilical cord”

    Ezi ewn khalf eyu!!!!

    • Kokhob Selam

      Haileat Hawey,
      I wonder if you read the poem -እታ ጓል ዓርከይ … when my friend and his daughter were talking about it. and this was on date 4 . please read it and you will find that there is the same story written on it. I don’t know how far that poem has shown you the picture.

      የግዳስ ጥንስቲ እያ ነይራ ኢሎማ :-
      ኣብ ማህጸና ህጸን ድቂ ተሰኪማ:-
      ዝያዳ ኮይኑኒ ኣመና ተጠሊማ:-
      ሓዘነይ ዛይዱ ብጣዕሚ ዛይዱ:-
      ድቂ ‘ውን ዶ ተሰዲዱ:-
      ኣብ ባሕሪ ኣብ ማይ ነዲዱ;-
      ኣንቲ ጓለይ ንሱ ‘ ውን ተፈሪዱ
      ኣካይ ዳ ህግደፍ ንኹሉ ዓጺዱ::

      I need feedbacks from people like you who are very much matured and with sound knowledge of Ge’ez because I am going to start writing a bit deeper and Ge’ez attached words.

      • luna

        Kokhob Selam:
        Thanks for those powerful words in the form of a poem!. For the first time, in a long time, I feel Eritreans are tired of the regime like never before. This tragedy is not the first but one among many which is talked about all over. The world talked about the latest Lampedusa boat wreck like no other boat wreck before. It was a shock to hear these many people came face to face with death and very little help. What made this tragedy unusual is the death of the mom and her unborn baby. That by itself can be a rallying point for Eritreans. Beyond this, nothing worse can happen to us as people!

    • Oh no!! this tragedy is beyond sorrow that defies any explanation. It makes you frozen in disbelief and forget yourself to ponder as to why this horrendous tragedy befallen to our people. God of mercy, look upon us, and deliver us from this catastrophic events.

    • Ghezae Hagos

      Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable…Ata Amlak!

    • Danny

      It is beyond belief such an event could even be possible to take place. This story has to be the saddest of the sad and should be remembered as Eritreans fare under Isaias and PFDJ. Eritreans, please never, never, never forget this mother and baby born in the most horrendous of circumstances. It has to be a symbol of the Eritrean citizen’s life under the brute’s rule.

    • yegermal

      My God! This is too much to fathom. May they be united in peace for eternity!

  • Berhe Tensea

    The Somali government has thanked the Italians about their humanity and the Temben regime has nothing, since the dead are not from Tigray or Amhara region.

    • Saba

      The supporters led by wedi taba at paltalk are blaming the Italians..they believe the tragedy was prearranged .. Their reason is how..did the Italians found the hundreds coffenes in less than a day unless they knew about the accident before it happened.

      • Rasta

        So when did they start manufacturing the coffins? A year ago? Here comes a higdefite conspiracy theory aimed at confusing the hafash with a sole purpose of protecting DIA from any blame being attached to HIM. They know, though DIA has no direct link to the sinking of the ship, the deep sorrow of the hafash could lead from one to another, just like the famine of Wollo lead to the fall of the H.S. Regime. The main goal of HGDEF now is destruct, destruct and destruct.
        They would like us to NOT POLITICIZE the already political issue. GOOD TRY. THEY HAVE TOppp WORK REAL HARD ON THIS ONE. ACTUALLY THEY HAVE PANICKED and are prone to stumble more. The Mai Ayni incident is part of the parcel, aimed at creating havoc every where to destruct the momentum. BTW I was there to visit and drop some medicine at the clinic that same day. Missed theDEMO and tragic incident by a few hours.
        Where is the COMMANDER IN CHIEF in all this? While he is hiding to minimize the incident, believe me, 03 will have us believe that it has been too painful for HIM to even talk about it. TEQER MESILU YEDENGHITSEKA MISKINAY. STAY TUNED FOR MORE BIZARRO TACTICS FROM HGDEF. WE HAVE TO DO NOTHING OTHER THAN APPROPRIATELY GRIEVE and things will fall in places on time leading to the demise of the regime, well that is how it should END.

        • Rasta

          Sorry for the sp. error. Toppp should read to work harder on that…..

  • Berhe Tensea

    The Temben regime is engaged in large scale round up in Asmara and other towns .
    The ignorant and the hungry Warsay are very busy in implementing the dictators orders by any means necessary.

  • haile

    Sealam Awatiyans,

    Here is a crowed sourcing petition for Isais Afwerki to resign NOW!

    This and all sorts of other means should be used to express the moral duty of Eritrean:

    1 – To honor those who perished in two successive attempts to reach land on Italian shores. The full list of the dead would be released soon and undoubtedly lead to major national heartache for the Eritrean people. The details are gruesome, I learned of an entire young family (Father, Mother (both in their 20’s) and their toddler) perished at Lampedusa. Also, the Shipwreck would finally brought to the surface, triggering further heartache to those who have lost. Add to this the regime’s bizarre acts of first refusing to acknowledge them, and now attempting to fund raise in their names as well as blaming the USA…It is a must that we don’t let the main main guilty party here – IA and his regime, Scot free

    2 – Unless we do so, we not only give the wrong message that “as Eritreans we don care about whatever befalls our people anymore” but also are giving our support, albeit inadvertently, for this to happen again and again.

    We need to note that recently the name Eritrea and Death are frequently mentioned more often. An Eritrean military escapee tells most of the Jan.21 members were killed, in the first of the two ships 13 dead Eritreans were washed up onto Italian coast, estimated 350 Eritrean mothers, pregnant women, children, and young men died at Lampedusa, at least one Eritrean killed in Ethiopia…I fear death is creeping into the Eritrean sky. Please let’s call for the resignation of Isaias Afwerki and his regime NOW… your people are dying!

    • Ermias

      I just signed. Please let’s all sign, no ifs and buts. This is the closest we have come to being a unified voice against the brutes, DIA and PFDJ.

      Dear team, may I humbly request this petition be in the front page?

      • Yemane Johar

        I just signed the petition for DIA to resign. Thanks!

    • Hailat,

      Why do you want to ask irrelevant questions? Questions of resignation to insane man makes us insane ourselves. It Questioned our moral judgement and our consciousness to the man. Instead ask questions relevant to our struggle on how to root him out from power as well as questions that address our unity to that effort.

      Amanuel Hidrat

      • Nitricc

        Once I was told that day dreaming is good for the mind.
        I geuss no harm and Nothing wrong to day dream.
        Wow 🙂

      • haile

        Merhaba Aman

        Hold it, hold it.. 🙂

        “Questions relevant to the struggle” and “Questions that address our unity” can wait! This is a tragedy unfolding in real time. Some people in social media are reporting that there are another group of Eritreans preparing to set a sail from Libya because the have already paid money and they are trying to avoid the stormy season at sea that is setting on the Mediterranean. There are families desperate about the where about of their loved one and have no means of contact them from Eritrea. Asmara is witnessing another day of Giffa and pressure is mounting with tens of thousands of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia and the situation is grim in Sinai and Israel. Europe is still recovering Eritrean bodies from the sea. More Eritreans are ready to leave Eritrea, more are ready to escape their refugee camps and many are ready to take the ultimate risk.

        So here are two questions:

        1 – IA and his regime must resign NOW call for mass uprisings

        2 – “Questions relevant to the struggle” and “Questions that address our unity”

        Which of [1] or [2] is relevant, timely, urgent, decisive, sane, moral…question to ask? Should the death toll rise and continue to rise till we address questions of helping a “struggle” that you term as “not institutional” and I agree emphatically by noting that even the regime has beat them to expressing a belated condolences to its own victims after a week of festivals and dance nights! Or until we reach a settlement on “unity” as perceived by freelancers 🙂

        I am hope you read about the brothers Adel and Abraham, one one dead and the other looking for his brother and refusing to leave Lampedusa before finding his brother dead or alive! If they have more family at home that may be facing the same fate, what would be the question you ask them to do? Come up wit a road map for unity and how to help the struggle, or rise up and demand the fall of the regime? Let freedom ring all over Eritrea NOW!

        There is no time nor purpose to talk about issues that had taken a fair share of time [decade and half] and failed miserably to produce a single press release to console the bereaved. This call or question, depending how you see it, is serious and urgent! From this point on wards, it is too late to say I didn’t know…blood can only be washed away by blood and I am afraid Eritreans are slowly being desensitized to the killings of their own children.


        • Hailat,

          You miss my point. What I am saying is calling for resignation to an insane man is not strategically sound nor tactically helpful to the ultimate removal of him. Help me in what way calling for resignation help to our strategy “the removal of him”. Second my questions are not in any way will mean to address them at this particular of our sorrow where we are still waiting for state funeral by the Italian government with the help EU. I don’t think the evil will allow them to rest in their homeland as we all wish…. may God give the necessary strength to families of this tragedy.

          • beyan negash

            Haw Amanuel,

            There is time for questioning and time for just doing even if it makes no sense – please just do it. At this point anything people say to sign, the only question I ask is “where is the dotted line. Period.” Look, however tiny that potential to remove the evil, just do it. You never know what might stick. This is no time to ask, we will reflect at a later time and at a later date.


        • Kubur Beyan,

          Yes, I will not stop my inquisitive mind. I will ask and reflect my view anytime and every time regarding issues of national matter. It becomes in my blood since I joined the armed struggle. I don’t know whether it is a blessing or cursing, a question hanging there for sometime.

          Amanuel H.

          • Ermias

            That explains. You were in the armed struggle and so you have no compassion for anyone. I hate all tegadelti except the martyrs. You all brought misery and death to Eritreans. tegadalay versus gebar. We paid more than you all did. You may have lost a limb but we lost our livelihood completely too and adeda sidetn wirdetn kaa koyna. So you are not better than ab asmeran ab kal botatn ab gize megzati zneberna. You can question my sanity by me saying I hate tegadelti but I firmly believe that you have all been desensitized of all forms of human compassion, both jebha and shaebia.

            Just sign the damn thing. This is the closest we have come to being unified. Just because it was not your original idea doesn’t mean you can’t support your fellow united Eritreans. If you can’t sign it, then just shut up.

        • Ermias,

          You are barking to a wrong tree. I have warned to the Eritrean people about Issayas and his organization before anybody in 1991 when they liberated the land and entered to the city.Check public domain. I wish the Eritrean people heed my voice at that time. So Ermias do not put as in one basket. If your point is against the liberation then I will not argue with you at this particular time of sorrow. You see Ermias we have different take on how we see Issayass to begin with. While I see him as insane man who doesn’t have humanity you are asking me to sign for his resignation (in your view he is sane and can hear us our call) which he will not do it as I know, It hasn’t feasibility to do that. Therefore Ermais, there must be a change in your thought on how you see the man which I consider him insane. Cool down, Know who are your allies and who aren’t.


  • Danny

    The Eritrean government, the most coward and corrupt government in the world as far as I am concerned, had not only denied the Eritreaness of the victims for 6 days, but also denigrated the victims as being “illegal” from far away while the Italian government granted them honorary citizenship. As soon as the European Union announced that it will see to the tragedy of Lampedusa and offer money toward the victims, the Eritrean government announced the victims are indeed Eritreans, thinking solely on how to get to benefit financially from the EU. The coward government is thinking about treating the victims like the ship full of disease infected sheep that it imported from Australia because the latter government offered to give a million dollars to whichever country would like to take the sheep. Even Somalia, which was famine and conflict ridden at the time refused to take in the infected sheep in the name of pride. Issaias has shamed the Eritrean nation far too many times. Enough is enough.

  • Simon Abraha

    I want Eritrean who drowned and died, the title bar I had my brothers and sistrar in the boat and did not answer so please before I take myself murder should see if they alive or not please

  • dawit

    Thank you Awate Team moderator. I apologize for the error

  • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

    OK Haile and SAAY,
    Let’s try a deal, (it seems we will have a tie if we vote 🙂 C’mon Serray, you can help me here.

    Let’s agree to call for his resignation provided he stays in detention until he is brought to justice. But who will detain him? The brutes who have been protecting him? I think resignation is an easy escape from accountability. If you can convince me resignation would automatically bring him to justice, I am all ears. So far, neither of you has a convincing argument. Then, let the neutral people ask for less than justice (I know, resignation leads to court as you hope), his victims cannot demand anything less than immediate trials for all his crimes.

    • Serray

      Selam Saleh Gadi,

      I am with you, if isaias was forced to resign and spent his last days in exile, it will be a traversty of justice. I don’t think Sal or Haile are asking for that. The call for his resignation is tactical. The “bring him to justice” tends to give his zombies talking points.

      Saleh, for some time now, I am increasingly convinced that he is not in charge. On the days we don’t see him, he is probably in straight jacket. The resign vs bring him to justice are tunes played for other peoples’ ears. Division of labor is needed here; let the political wing call for resignation and the human rights wing call for justice.

    • Horizon

      Asking only for the resignation of DIA is a soft punch he and his regime can easily dodge. One cannot expect self-induced resignation from a dictator; for the time being this is the only option. But, look at Mugabe, he is almost ninety and he has decided to die in office. If DIA knows that he can resign any time he chooses and he can go scot-free, and would be able to live a peaceful and luxurious life with his family members somewhere in an Arab country, then, there is no reason why he should not stay in power until his death. After all, home is much better than life in exile.
      Demanding for his immediate removal from power and for his indictment by the International Criminal Court for crimes committed against the Eritrean people should be endorsed immediately. In addition, there should be an arrest warrant for DIA (as has been issued for Al Bashir) and for some of his major enablers. This might shake his power base and send a strong message to the people of Eritrea that after all there is still hope for a better future.

    • haile

      Selamat SGJ and Serray,

      Well, Serray is a tactical voter…no tie braker 🙂

      Terms of reference: I am assuming here that by “demand for Justice” is a well understood but not well defined quantity. By “immediate resignation” is a specific course of action, with well defined set of outcomes. Before solving a problem, let’s do justice to it by well defining it ( that is the 4 W’s of it in scope and content) 🙂

    • Ermias

      Selamat saay, I think I am almost sold on your idea (like I can make much of a difference either way) but I do have some arguments in favor of demanding to bring DIA to justice first. Probably wouldn’t work in principle but the catch word here is ‘demanding.’

      If we call for resignation, it may imply that he has been there legitimately. What we want here is the international community to tighten the knot on IA and PFDJ. So if we demand for him to be held responsible for pouring all the atrocities upon our people, it may have more weight and we might have more organizations and states on our side. For most Eritreans, calling resignation might be much easier to swallow but that I am still afraid might be a little ‘timid’ (for lack of a better word) as far as outside pressure is concerned. Outside pressure must be a major part of the plan here. Among other things, nations can dismiss PFDJ from their countries and kill 2% altogether which can have a dramatic effect on PFDJ and IA.

      Directly accusing him for shedding all that blood, killing, imprisoning, detaining, persecuting, etc. innocent Eritreans seems to me easier to gain international compassion and action.

      You do make excellent points, however, and so I for one am all game for either approach. We can’t miss the opportunity on this occasion to bring about justice to our people. All we need is action. There is no more room for worse things to happen to Eritreans.

  • Papillon

    Isaias sure enough will respond or treat the question of resignation equally as a question of retirement. As he a while back with a scorn undertone said it, “One can never retire from he or she aspires to do in life”. That is precisely normal in his rather bizarre mindset where he has been successful in gravitating the Eritrean people into his world.

    Moreover, one would normally bring about a motion for a president to resign when there are institutions in place. However, when Isaias is the State himself; when Isaias is the Judiciary branch himself; when Isaias the legislative branch himself; when Isaias is the excecutive branch himself; when Isaias is supreme commander of the military himself; when Isaias is the civic society himself, whom is the request for a resignation to be directed to? That is precisely the reason violent mass uprising are indispensable. That is the only request Isaias will not be able to pass with a scorn and contempt.