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Massacre In Sudan; Death Announcements In Eritrea

On December 24, at least eight Eritreans died when their boat capsized in the Atbara River in Sudan and their smugglers, criminal elements of the Lahawyeen tribe of the Rashaida, held the surviving four as captives for ransom.

Enraged, Eritrean compatriots encamped at the Shegarab Refugee camp in Eastern Sudan “attacked a neighboring village inhabited by the Lahaweyeen tribe accusing them for being responsible for the death of their compatriots,” according to an Eritrean website

“The ensuing bloody confrontation resulted in a number of people from both sides being wounded,” added

The Eritreans released their captives; consequently, the Lahawyeen Rashaida and Sudanese security officials attacked the refugee camp, torched huts, beat and captured dozens of Eritrean prisoners, presumably for ransom and trafficking.

During the unrest, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been denied access to the camp by Sudanese authorities.

A week earlier, the same criminal gang had raided the refugee camps and kidnapped 16 people.

Sudanese authorities, who normally outsource security of the region to the warring Lahawyeen Rashaida, have gotten involved: they used tear gas and live bullets to disperse crowds.

Residents of the Shegarab refugee camps have appealed to international community to protect them from the marauding gangs and from the Sudanese security officials who are colluding with the criminal elements of the Lawhawyeen Rashaida.

According to the UNHCR, there are over 117,000 Eritreans, with over 1,000 new arrivals estimated every month, spread out in three camps (Shagerab 1, 2, 3) in Eastern Sudan.

The Atbara River is joined by the Setit/Tekeze river north in the Al Gadaref province, close to the Shegerab refugee camps. Tekeze/ Setit forms part of the boundary between Eritrea-Ethiopia and runs the course to join the Atbara river that joins the Nile River in the town of Atbara.

Sudan has been hosting Eritrean refugees since 1967, when they first arrived to escape Ethiopian bombardment of their villages. The new arrivals are Eritreans escaping forced conscription and bleak future in Eritrea. Over 90% of Eritrean applications for refugee status in East Sudan are accepted by UNHCR.

The Lahaweyeen tribe of the Raishaida were given land to settle in the region by the “Shukria” tribe. With a reputation for being a warrior class, the Sudanese authorities use them as a buffer from Eritrea and Ethiopia in the East and the Beja tribe in the North.

In the 1980s, the Eritrean People Liberation Front (EPLF) used them to hunt down and capture defecting combatants and, according to some sources, Isaias Afwerki uses them to deal with escaping Eritreans.

Death Notices In Asmara

Death notices are plastered all over Eritrea as a result of the fatal gunning down of 13 Eritreans who were attempting to escape via the Gindae-Port Sudan route.

Gedab News has already reported on the three sisters who were part of the 16 Eritreans and who were gunned down by government forces while on a vehicle. Subsequently, Eritrean website identified the names of the three sisters as: Ariam, Rita and Hossana.  We now have information on the identity of two additional Eritreans who were killed: Henok Mengestab, 17, and Samuel Yonas, 18, who were best friends and recent graduates of the 27th Round.

The two were among the batch that graduated from Sawa High School in June 2014. In keeping with custom, the two were sent home, awaiting the announcement of their high-school leaving exam, which typically occurs in September. Those with grades in the top percentiles are admitted to academic colleges; those with grades in middle percentiles to trade schools, and those with grades in the bottom percentiles are enlisted in the armed forces.

The two left the country before the government announced the test results, despite being top students who could be admitted to the academic colleges.

We have also received information that the vehicle they, and 14 others, were traveling on was a military vehicle. It is common knowledge in Eritrea that people with means can commission a corrupt military officer to transport them from Asmara to Khartoum, barely stopping for roadblocks.

Gedab News is able to report that the three individuals who were not killed in the incident are accounted for: they were injured in September and had been hospitalized, north of Keren, since. They were released in mid- December.

There is now speculation that the government was forced to release the information on the death of the 13 Eritrean children, three months after the fact, because it knew that the surviving members would spread the word.

We have also received information, though unconfirmed, that most of the 16 youth were members of the 27th round (which means they are mostly 17 and 18 years old.)
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  • T..T.

    All those who illegally cross the border and those
    who defied Isayas’s rule to become refugees are considered enemies of his
    (Isayas) government. Isayas agents
    within/among the refugees hold to deadly abusive and punishing means, even by
    bribing the Sudanese officials. That is why
    many of the Eritrean opposition members are tempted to believe that the committed heinous act
    is not an isolated incident. Indeed, it
    is part of muscle flexing of what Isayas claims to be his “LONG REACH” that no
    one of his chased Eritrean enemies escapes from.

  • Saleh Johar

    Hello all,
    Have you noticed the number of Eritrean refugee camps in Sudan and Ethiopia only? In Sudan there are several other camps outside the confines of the map, for example Aroma, one of the oldest camps. It doesn’t include camps in Yemen and Djibouti. It doesn’t include camps in Europe. Why did so many Eritreans leave their country to stay in camps? On the map alone, there are six camps in Ethiopia and nine in Eastern Sudan. The Shegerab camp is made up of three separate camps: Shegerab 1, Shegerab 2, and Shegerab 3. It is a growing business for human traffickers.

    • haileTG

      Hi SGJ, interesting point to ponder about. Here is my two cents:

      Eritrea and Eritreans are living through historic times. This is the great Eritrean exodus period in the annals of Eritrean history. Indeed, there has been such large scale dislocations in the past, mostly in war times. None of them witnessed the current levels of tragedies and extreme desperate measures. Geographically, they were short haul and periodic. The current dislocation is played in peace time, its triggering factors are internal, its tragedies never seen before and regular streaming out of the population rather than periodic. This historic epoch is still in the making and on going. Artists have painted about it, writers narrated countless stories, singers played their tunes about it, the shaken the world at times and the disaster continues unabated. This is a major part of Eritrea’s history to be told for posterity. Have we reached the final chapters? Have we even passed the half way mark? Is the story to unfold going to be less tragic, less gripping than that has been told already or we ain’t seen nothing yet? Questions, questions!

      Regime change is the smallest and an almost foregone conclusion in the list of ramifications to unfold in the wake of the great Eritrean exodus period. Will the very foundation of the nation survive the impact? Will regional geo-politics change for good? Will there be Eritrea as we knew it in the past? …are some of the cardinal questions too. I believe Eritreans are not choosing camp life to that of their natural homes in Eritrea. The same person lives in camps in Ethiopia, goes to camps in the Sudan, treks to camps in Libya and reaches camps in European border checkpoints hoping to be finally be accepted as a refugee. You could see it as transit points in your regular flight schedule, departure Eritrea, arrival Europe/N America, flight time unknown, transit route/time unknown. That is it. If you do the simple math, the total refugee numbers in Ethiopia have been steadily increasing over the last decade. Despite many leaving the camps legally or illegally, the rate at which new refugees arrive is much higher than the rate of leaving them. Hence, the steady increase. There is NO way the west would re-settle ALL of these refugees. And there is NO way they would voluntarily go back to Eritrea. A mounting refugee population, a narrowing doors of acceptance means the whole system would implode at some point. This is what making me think that the worst is to come. And the history volume of the great Eritrean exodus period is still being written. A problem too obvious to see, yet too complex to handle. God have mercy.


    • Hope

      Come on Ustaz Saleh,
      You know the reasons,the answers and the solutions…..but the question we have to answer is:
      Why have we failed to apply those solutions and answers while we are witnessing the collapse of a Nation in front of our eyes?
      Let us focus on that,rather than crying and regurgitating things over and over and pointing fingers at that and this crap…I listened to your interview both in Arabic and Tigrinya(gna) and,to our dismay,you shyed away from answering the same challenging question Bro Abdelkerim asked you.
      You said correctly’.though,…Ego…”.Oh, yeah that Ego should be gone for good….
      Apology,defamation,personal grudges and issues are secondary compared to what the Nation is going through.
      Again,the major question is:
      What can we do before it is too late,which is already too late??Telling stories and Reporting Plus aint going to be enough and the solution.
      Let us walk the talk….

      • Saleh Johar

        Hope, as usual, no question, no explanation, just a limping comment. You said, to “our” dismay…” Who are “you” since you seem to belong to a group on whose behalf you are commenting?

        The rest I can’t say much on because ede egri yebelun, with apologies.

        Finally, “Let us walk the talk..”

        How else can I walk the talk more than I am walking? Please help me there. Better, show me your walk and prove to me you are better than the rest of people here, and I can copy your talk and walk. Again, please temper your EGO 🙂

        • Hope

          Ustaz Saleh:
          -Please avoid being “defensive and over-reactive”.
          It has been 24yrs now—–and other than “talk”,where is the walk?
          Show me the money/evidence.
          I never said better than any one here but expressing that we are NOT doing better.
          Yes,to the “Dismay of most of us”,you did not answer the question of the Interviewer.Why would you care about “which/who” of us are dismayed?As to the “ede- egrie zeibilu comment”,I am learning to do better.
          What matters is my message,NOT my comment.or my English.get the message..and my MESSAGE is:
          -Let us practise what we PREACH
          -Let us leave behind our old grudges,and personal issues,
          -Let us work for a “Genuine Reconciliation and National Unity without “ifs and buts/preconditions and obstacles;kemish adey hanquiluni excuses,etc–.
          -Yes,let us avoid blanket accusations,counter-accusations and generalizations and Forget and Forgive…..
          -Let us talk around the TABLE,NOT around the Cyber-Space and the pens

        • ber

          I didnot listen the arabic interview,but what Hope is saying is that simply you refrained to answer questions in the interview.
          To my understanding if you dont agree with Hope,then your response should be to proof that you have answerd the questions,rather that going around the bush by personilizing the issue.

          This is not what one expects from one acadamic in your position and that in turn makes Us(reders)dismayed

  • Fetima Dechasa

    Hi Ethiopian,

    This isn’t such a good idea because Ethiopia is currently the biggest refugee hosting country in Africa and the refugee camps are extremely crowded.