“Eriteria and its emigrants: Why they leave,” from the Economist Magazine:
A DAY of national mourning was held on October 4th after as many as 300 people drowned in the Mediterranean’s worst recent shipwreck, just off Lampedusa. Candles were lit and flags flew at half-mast. But this was not in Eritrea, where most of the dead came from, but in Italy, the country they lost their lives trying to reach.
Some 30,000 people reached Italy illegally in boats in the first nine months of 2013, three times as many as in the whole of 2012, according to Frontex, the European Union’s border agency. Many hail from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, three countries in varying stages of civil strife. But the largest batch came from Eritrea, a country that has supposedly been at peace for the past 13 years.
The Italian island of Lampedusa, which lies south of Sicily in what officials call the “central Mediterranean corridor”, is not on the Eritreans’ main escape route. Most make their way overland. Some 40,000 have sought refuge in Israel, 87,000 in Ethiopia and 125,000 in Sudan. On the face of things, this is odd. Though its GDP per person is still only $500, the former Italian colony, which was recognised as independent from Ethiopia in 1993, is enjoying modest growth on the back of a boom in mining…