Martin Plaut @martinplaut - Author of Understand Eritrea; Fellow, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Mesghina Abraha - Ph.D. candidate in Development Studies, SOAS; Research associate, Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA)
Georgia Cole @GcrCole - Joyce Pearce Junior Research Fellow, University of Oxford
Ruby Sandu @RSCollaboration - Founder and Principal Consultant at RS Collaboration
Since the beginning of last year, Eritreans have made up the fourth largest group of asylum seekers in the European Union, and the second largest group to arrive in Italy by boat, after Syrians.
Until recently, the UK Home Office has been refusing the majority of asylum claims stating that Eritreans arriving in the UK are not in need of international protection based on a controversial report commissioned by the Danish Immigration Service last year. This left many wondering about the real situation inside Eritrea, especially as the vast majority of Eritreans seeking asylum in the UK were successful up until 2014. On 11 October 2016, the Home Office reversed its guidelines on assessing Eritrean asylum seekers once again after a UK court ruled that Eritreans who left the country illegally and/or evaded military service still face real danger upon return.
This panel made of longstanding observers of Eritrea discuss and debate the situation on the ground. Has the situation in Eritrea changed? Why do people flee from Eritrea? What can we expect now that the Home Office has once again revised its country guidance? What are the implications for Eritreans who are sent back to the country?