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Distribution Of New Eritrean ID Cards In The Diaspora

In October 2014, the Eritrean Government announced it will retire the old Eritrean national ID cards that were issued before the referendum of 1993 and replace them with new ID cards.

The announcement had indicated the new ID will be digitally printed, unlike the old ID that was hand written. According to government sources, the old ID cards were “relatively easy to forge,” which resulted in “many African migrants — mostly from Ethiopia — using fake Eritrean IDs to gain asylum in the West.”

Disturbed by the influx of large numbers of Eritrean refugees reaching European shores, the government used the issuing of the new ID cards as a tool to ameliorate the embarrassment.  For instance, the government had claimed that out of the 36,000 Eritrean refugees who were in Israel as of 2014, “based on the Eritrean government findings, they believe at least half (18,000)” were Eritreans. The rest, according to the sources, were African immigrants “from Ghana to Ethiopia… are claiming they are Eritrean refugees.”

Recently, Eritrean consulates in major cities have started the process of changing the ID cards and have prepared makeshift facilities for shooting ID photographs.

The embassy has rented work-spaces in several US cities, and applicants for the new ID are filling up the application forms which include personal details including the yearly income of the applicants.

Knowing the income of Eritreans is important for the collection of the 2% tax that the government imposes on all Eritreans even those who hold Western citizenship. However, it is not known how the embassy will verify that the income declarations are honest.

Diaspora Eritreans who do not pay or clear accounts in arrears do not get any consular service or any government service in Eritrea.

Though the government claims equal treatment of all languages, the website of the Eritrean embassy in the USA has an electronic application for ID card in English and Tigrinya only.

The Eritrean government classifies the population along linguistic lines, but insists on calling it ethnicity; applicants are expected to choose an “ethnic” identification out of the pre-determined nine language groups.

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  • Mahmud Saleh

    What’s up Awatawyan
    I do carry my Referendum era ID; I luminated it and it is somewhere between my files and documents. Occasionally, I pick it up. It is a reminder of a time long gone. It carries memories of a different era. It is more precious to me than any other documents. I want to pass that to my kids, may be as a souvenir of a different world, of different vibration….my first Eritrean ID.

    Speaking of ID, while industrialized world has moved from the strong emotional attachments they place on “home land” or home town… our emotion is still attached snugly with the land and people from which we came. That’s why we experience a double existence. We are here, but we are there, a sort of trance…unending limbo. My ID is my language, my music, my camels, cows, goats, food…the fauna and flora of the valley and hills, the sound of giggling kids…a raucous Guaila (country dance)…the smell of the market…ID cards are replaceable, but those memories are not.

    Here is an excellent article that I have found, which is related to this topic. The young man is a talented writer; he also happens to be the director of PEN Eritrea.

    “Now I picture the country in different shapes. Sometimes I see it as old-time sweetheart and remember it with nostalgia. Other times I see it as an open and giant prison. Even though I believe I am in a secure space, I feel eternally tied to my home country. Each day I am reminded of being out of place. Carrying the badge of “legal alien” or “asylee” – not to mention the acute lack of familiarity and sense of belonging – I keep telling myself that I have a better home waiting for me, perhaps somewhere else. But with every change of address, city and zip code, the concept of “home” also becomes more fluid. Now “home” has been reduced to my mailing address. Although exile guarantees security and safety, as a writer I’ve found that it does not necessarily present the best opportunity to produce better work. The new space is a source of disillusionment. The new freedom to write and the sudden abolishing of the censorship yoke, might give momentary high, but for me it remains characterised by estrangement.” Abraham Tesfaleul.


    This reminds me of Khalil Gibran, the giant Lebanese-American writer, who experienced what it meant to live in exile. His prose and poems ooze the longing he had for his occupied land, its people, land and air. Here is a beautiful quote that says a lot about his thinking regarding his relation to the newfound western world and his live connection to Lebanese, a land he left when he was young, yet fought to liberate it from the yoke of Ottoman Turkey.

    “The Spirit of the West is our friend if we accept him, but our enemy if we are possessed by him; our friend if we open our hearts to him, our enemy if we yield him our hearts; our friend if we take from that which suits us, our enemy if we let ourselves be used to suit him.”

    • dawit

      Selam Mahmudai,
      I am also keeping my light blue Eritrean ID, which came laminated originally and my Yellow Ethiopian ID. They are my passports and entry visas to my two countries. I have also a large Eritrean exit visa ID. I also keep my old Ethiopian passports. They area all important documents and plan to pass the to my kids as souvenir and proof of their origin.

  • Nitricc

    Hi All: Eritrea is entering new era!!!
    Implementing New Civil panel code!
    Drafting new constitution!
    PIA Getting out of the public view for extended period of time!
    Printing new currency!
    Issuing new ID card!
    Add to whatever you want to the list and you get two things.
    Reform on the way and power transferring in process!

  • Babba Babbalala

    Well the Old ID card also says the government was transitional. It is permanent now. Everything is permanent in Eritrea now. The ID card, Military service, party membership etc..no more transition.

  • Semere Andom

    Hi All:
    Eritreans should boycott the new PFDJ ID that is aiming to rip them off their hard earned money and create a dossier on them. And as history proves PFDJ collects information not for demographic research for policy enhancement but for spying and repressions. So all Eritreans should boycott exchanging or getting new ID.
    I am still shocked that some former PFDJ bureaucrat did to make the call to boycott, exposing the spying nature of PFDJ and how it used information
    If you are Eritrean with “awdi and adi” as we say in Tigrinya then fear not you will be able to get your citizenship after PFDJ is removed. PFDJ’s ID is an emblem of serfdom and slavery and not that of citizenship.
    No one will deny you your birth right so all Eritreans as much as they possible must send a message by boycotting PFDJ’s new scheme of ripping and information collecting

    • Hope

      Dear Semere Andom:
      Your HYPOCRISY and BIAS are boundary-less !
      Where were you when the Eri-ID has been abused to the maximum?
      God bless you and Merry Christmas to U and to your loved ones,unless my Tigrayit Cousin converted U to ….

    • Tsige Asfaha

      Dear Semere:
      I support your proposal to boycott the new ID. PFDJ’s act feels so intrusive as to squeeze an admission out of us, by inducing fear into our mind that without it we may lose it all, we would submit our conscience to the yoke of authority of a pariah state. In fact, this may turn out to be an initiative, if followed in mass, that would help reverse the injustice some of our fellow Eritreans suffered when they were an ID at a later stage for not registering for the referendum. And now by rallying around our Eritrean compatriots to refuse that government prescribed ID, we can help abort feature would injustices committed, while at the same time delineating its limits on such rights, for good. Of course, what I have in mind is the population living legally in the west. It would not be fair to ask others living in the rest of the world, for the consequence would be insurmountable.

    • Nitricc

      Hi Semere; I was going to ask you about paying your taxes and obtaining your ID to your white masters then it accures to me you live in Canada. Never mind; my bad. However; if anyone needs to have an ID is you! judging from your futile and disgraceful act; no one is sure you are Eritrean. I suggest you get your ID, you need it. Trust me.

    • No Drama

      Haw Semer and seb Awate,

      You are right Semere: diversion is the name of the game and this time, it’s the ID. The coffre is empty so every trick is good provided it helps the wedini junta get some cash. Issayas and his gang have long delegated the ” we trust in God” to the greenback and they trust in US Dollars! Mind you, they are as obsessed with USD as they pretend to abhor the authorities that back it:) I for one has long decided to boycott anything remotely associated with the barbaric regime and Issayas can put his ID where I think.

    • Alem

      The criminal unelected regime of Isayas Afeworki does not have the constitutional right to issue any sort of ID card, but rather it is another ploy to steal our money and to beef up his Swiss account. So my brothers and sisters if you have a functioning brain stop handing out your money to the psychopath killer.
      The nonsense argument of our ID is exploited by other African immigrants and especially Ethiopians does not hold any water. If our ID is forged and used by other African immigrants to seek asylum in the western world, because it is only the crime against humanity, slavery, murder, torture, rape in our land against our brothers and sisters is widely RECOGNISED and accepted as a fact in the western world. So my brothers and sisters lets NOT hand over our hard earned money to the ruthless cold blooded murderer Isayas Afeworki and his sell out criminal’s and extend their stay.

  • Hope

    Selam All:
    The change of the Eri ID HAS BEEN PAST-due ,indeed!
    The negative impact of the abuse and ID THEFT of the Eri ID have HIT the sky!
    We should rather ask as to why the ID Change was delayed!
    As far as the evidence about the ERI ID is concerned ,it is all over to see it and has been proven :
    -The beneficiaries themselves-the Ethiopians!
    -The ERITREAN Consulates and the ERITREAN Refugees themselves,specially in Ethiopia
    -the EU itself!
    Preconditions and the 2percent Rehab Tax:
    Eventhough at one time,it was ” required” to submit the tax in order to get the exit visa,which was NOT a Policy but misunderstanding,to my best knowledge ,it is not the case any more!
    -the 2percent tax is NOT a criterion for Eri Citizenship but for certain services and privileges at home!
    It only becomes ” Mandatory” when it comes to those basic ” Rights and Privileges”
    An Eri Citizen does not have an obligation to pay the 2 percent Rehab Tax to visit Eritrea and his /her family!

    Few Facts on the Diaspora Tax:

    -Eritrea is not the first and will not be the last Nation to apply this minimum tax!Lots of Nations apply it!

    -It was the Legitimate Eri Assembly that passed the Law in wary -mid 199s!

    -The AU and even the UN recommended that the Diaspora Tax and contribution to their or its respective Nations was said to be of tremendous help(leave aside the sticky the issue of Rule of Law or Constitutional Governance)’!

    -The Swedish,the Swiss and the notorious Canadian Governments approved it as legitimate for ERITREANS to pay the minimal rehab tax!

    I said this based on facts and based my own experience!
    Let us FOCUS on the main substance and the PRIORITY of priorities,rather than gossip and cyber fight and defamatory campaign against each other !
    Let us focus on the Positive Aspects of the Nairobi Conference and get involved constructively rather than indulge ourselves on this and that crap !
    YES to National Reconciliation NOW!
    No to old grudges,sabotage,defamation and character assassination and personal interest and weirdo EGO!
    I was disappointed about the SHJ Vs Dr Andeberhan W fight and about focusing on this single incident of less importance and I have gathered some info on it and will shoot my opinion,if allowed to do so!
    But am more than happy after I listened to all interviews and after reading Mr.Weldeyesus Amar’s Article!
    Let us stay positive and constructive!

    BTW,the 200 million euros by the EU for Eritrea’s Development and Poverty Etadication is approved!
    My SINCERE CONDOLENECE to those,who fought against it for their ultimate failure to block!

    • Abi

      Hi cousin Hope Habibi
      A confused Sunday sermon as always decorated by exclamation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      You said in regard to the 2 percent , ” it only becomes “mandatory ” when it comes to those basic” rights “and “privileges ”
      My question is if it is a basic right and privilege why do you impose a mandatory 2 percent?
      You can explain or just say ayimelekethim, ayagebahim.
      You are right.
      Regarding the 200,000,000 all I say is that is a lot of zeros!!!!!

  • Solomon Haile

    Selamat Ayneta,

    The only time I witness anyone to eat the cake and want it too is when they baked a light and high rising cake themselves. So in short Ayneta, are you sure this is not a case more than the morning cigarette? Are you sure this isn’t a case of “wake n bake”?
    Money Vs. identity? Money is another commodities on sale. The article confirms what we knew long ago. We knew Eritrean Identity was for sale for some time now. If non Eritreans are buying Eritrean IDs to make things look horrible in Eritrea, why aren’t Eritreans buying Eritrean IDs to make things look better I their country as well as…
    Sharpened pencils waiting for General Andom the Second to role the blunt. A lil food coloring then a red carpet role in Bolye on rout to Kasaanchis.
    Notice casa = house
    Anchis ~ yours.
    Kasanchis therefor is a neighborhood where all the Aradda know “mi case du casa”

  • Boku

    The Awyatistas have gotten really good at deflecting or trying to deflect attention away from the prevailing situation in Ethiopia their last bastion or hope. ID card or 2% tax at a time when EU has rejected their desperate plea will mean nothing. Keeping their followers engaged on these non issues seems petty after all that effort. That is however the nature of the beast as their ego and false sense of moralizing gets deflected to the ground.

    • AOsman

      Hi Boku,

      AYZOH – Why don’t you write about it, some of us do not know in detail what is happening south of the border. The two major news covered by Aljerira yesterday are the Oromo protest and the bombing at Mesjid Anwar in Mercato -Addis (no link so far).

      Bring it on, you know we have enough Ethio governement supporters that will battle with you, but rest assured Gen.Nitricc is here to knock every teeth left in them. The rest of awatista, they won’t deflect the topic , it is just they tend to focus on Eritrean affairs.


      • Solomon Haile

        Dear AOsman,

        Chillaaxxx 🙂

        To The East!

  • V.F.

    Selam nkulatkum.

    I hope Nitricc was finally able to finish reading something, short and sweet this one.

    Here is an exerpt:

    “…However, it is not known how the embassy will verify that the income declarations are honest….”

    Okay, you guys mean to say you didn’t know that PFDJ demands to see your annual social security statement?

    Here is another one:

    “Diaspora Eritreans who do not pay or clear accounts in arrears do not get any consular service or any government service in Eritrea.”

    ewa’e dahan do adi. tedanangets’ti nay HIGDEF ember konkum terifkum.

    I was there over 10 years ago and harassed as hello getting my exit visa because I didn’t have my 2%. I have never ever contributed to hanti ta’arifa n HIGDEF.

    • Hope

      Dear VF:
      In order to know the truth and the facts,you have to live in it!
      Unless U fullfil your obligations,or if U do not know abou your obligationshow how can you know about your rights?
      We are also talking about people ,who boycotted Eri Independence and Eri ID coz it was achieved by none, but the EPLF!
      Rest assured that no one is going to make U pay the minimum rehab tax in Eritrea unlike the USA,where the. IRS through the FBI will throw you to jail until you pay the tax you owe the IRS!
      It is only “Illegal” when things are done or requested to be Done in Eritrea!
      Oops,I forgot that the GoE is illegal and cannot ask for legal obligations!

  • Abi

    Hi Ayneta
    How about a jet lag ?

  • PTS

    You wondered how incomes can be verified. Since you never payed 2%, you probably don’t know how things work.
    If disclosure of income is required for the new ID application, verification of income is easy. When you pay the 2% tax, do you think you just tell them how much you earn and they take your words? In America we file taxes every year with the W forms. PFDJ embassies ask you to submitt those forms. So in addition to income, all your other information are disclosed.
    It is a gross violation of privacy, but then no payer does it in goodwill.

    • Saleh Johar

      And people willingly submit their Tax forms willingly! That is beyond docile. No wonder they are okay with oppression. But then, selfish interests are at the forefront.

      • kogne

        Hi salih many countrys have ID CARD ,I don’t know if you still holding your Ethiopian passport or not but Ethiopian citizens those who live abroad they have id card and even they have to renew it every 3 years, and to have new or old Eritrean id card its voluntary even to pay 2% tax is voluntary no body going to force you or point gun at you to have it, if you don’t want it that’s it no one going to bother or beg you yo have it

        • Saleh Johar

          Hi Kogne,
          If you are addressing me, I did not say otherwise. I, Saleh Johar, did not say anything about ID at all. Is the 2% voluntary, are you sure? That is news worthy. That is not the impression I had, thank you.

    • Amanuel

      Hi PTS
      That could be the case in US, however where I live (uk). Most of the time it is based on negotiation. They start high and you tell them. I can’t afford it and then settle down the middle. But there are exceptions if you take a godfather who is close to the officials you can get a way with the minumem payment. To the contrary, if you look desperate they will pile it up and charge you thousands. Even if you are student and tell Them you are living on a loan from the government they charge you. It is absurd.

  • Kokhob Selam

    ዝኸበርኩምን ዝኸበርክንን :-

    ማንነት ሓደ ኤርትራዊ ዜጋ – መን እዩ ሃገራዊ ኣመሓዳሪ ኮይኑ ክሓቶ ዝግባእ ? ዝብል ሕቶ ‘ውን ከም ኩሎም በዚ ውርደተኛ ስርዓት ተሓቲቶም ፍጹም መንግስቲ ዘይምዃኑ ዝተመለሱ ሕቶታት ኮይኑ እዩ ረኺበዮ:: ስርዓት ህግደፍ ማንነት ብጣስ ካርድ ምምላእን ዘይምምላእን ቅድሚ ምሕታቱ :- ንባዕሉ እቲ ስርዓት ማንነቱ ከፍልጠና ኣለዎ :: ማንነቱ ከረጋግጽ ከኣ ነዛ ኣዝያ ክብርቲ ማንነት ዝወደቁላ ደቂ ሃገር ልዕላውነታን ክብራን ንኽሕሉ ብሕግን ስርዓትን ክመርሕ ነይርዎ :: ግዳ ብዓቢኡ ነዚ ንኸተግብር ብስርዓትን ባህልን – ብሕጊ እንዳቦ ቆጽሊ ወዲቁሉ ዝተመርጸ ክኸውን ኣለዎ::

    ስርዓት ህግደፍ መንነቱ ዘይፍለጥ :- ቆራጽን ፈላጽን :- ናይ ውሑዳት ገበነኛታት ምትእኽኻብ ስለ ዝኾነ ንውስኣትን :- ኣካላቶም ኣብ ሃገረ ቀቢሮም ኣብ ስቃይ ዝነብሩ ዘለው ውጉኣትንስንኩላትን:- ኣብ ስደት ዝበልዩ ዘለው ጀጋኑ ተጋደልትን: – ኣብ ውሽጢ ዝርከብ ውጹዕ ህዝብን :- ኩሎም እሱራትን ብዛዕባ ማንነት ክሓትት ወላ’ ኳ ቅንጣብ መሰል የብሉን :: ዕጭ ! የግዳስ የግዳስ ሰብ ከይለከምኩም ካብ ዝባና ውረዱ : ማንነትና ሕጂ ውን ብደምና ከነረጋግጸልኩም እኹል ዓቅምን ትብዓትን ኣለና ክንብሎም ከኣ ግድን እዩ:: ነዚ እዩ ሰራዊት ድሕነት -ሕድሪ -ተተሓሒዝዎም ዘሎ ::

    • Solomon Haile

      Kofo Haliekum,

      Deeb Nairobi mTTakum.

      For a minute there I really thought about what this means? It confirms what pro GoE Eitreans were hearing when Eritrean diplomats in some “Mazungu” media outlets. Government spokesmen were disputing the exaggeration of Eritrean youth’ exodus from Eritrea.
      So the change of Eritrean ID cards was not intended for exclusion of known Eritreans. It was for the exclusion of non Eritreans who were utilizing an opportunity to affect Eritrea and its citizens negatively.
      The good news is that Gedab gebaEka..it is indeed privileged to be at the forefront of the Reconciliation trenches. A privilege that entitles a citizen for information.
      Nitric says profound statements in this forum. “True reconciliation is when …”

      • Kokhob Selam

        Ad kofa hala? ekubam we slubam,?
        yemeT’enan, meTa’ena ma mingeb’e faida alebu. Hikayat endico Hate y’terekba!

        Billahi Aleyek, is PFDJ really asking about Man’net to you and me? are they even interested who you and me are? let them go to ask Mediterranean sea shark, let them go and ask Sinai desert. Who are they in first place? are they really Eritreans?

        reconciliation is for those who are bold enough sorry for their historical mistakes and full surrender for truth. it is impossible to reconcile till someone stops his crime and gives you chance to forgive him.

        • Solomon Haile

          Dear Kokhob Selam,

          “YemeTeanann meTens, ma mingeb’e faida alebu”

          I must add an app to follow you in you Tigrigna writings. I don’t think rural Eritrea would bore me. .,,
          Along with Freedom of Press, Freedom of expression is…

          • Kokhob Selam

            Dear Sele,

            “ጭሩ ዝዓቅማ ትሕጎም” እንድኣሉ እቲ ጉዳይ!! ብዝኾነ እቲ ክብሎ ዝደለኹ -ሕቶኻ ንምምላስ- ኣይመጻእናን መጺእና እንተንኸውን ‘ውን ቁም ነገር ኣይምተረኽቦን: ዕላል ኮይኑ እንድኣሉ ተሪፉ -ንምባል እየ ክንደይ ዓቀበት ደይበ እሞ ኣይትሓዘለይ :: ቛንቛ ትግረ ክመሃሮ ይግበኣኒ እዩ የቀንየለይ ::

            I don’t really know why, this ” reconciliation ” thing is again becoming another instrument for reformers. tell me what are we going to reconcile? with whom? when? how? for what? how the process works? I think our understanding is different, can put for me your say here bellow?

          • Solomon Haile

            Dear Kokhob Selam,

            It is unfortunate. I suppose we have to resort to accepting decision makers. The letter to the NGOs is apparent then. We now have access as well as the initiative by a citizen narration. Is it only a capital capability issue?
            I do not take the Reconciliation weight lightly. I hear you though.


  • dawit

    Gedab News

    “old Eritrean national ID cards that were issued before the referandum of 2013”.
    I didn’t know there was Eritrean referendum in 2013. I suggest you edit the article correct the facts including conduct a through spellcheck.

    • Ted

      Hi dawit, speaking of through, they should do thorough spellcheck too.;-)