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Nearly 4,000 Eritreans flee each month, says UN

An Eritrean refugee holds his child at Sudan's Shagarab refugee camp in Kassala on January 12, 2012Brutal government repression and a system of forcing all citizens into decades of military conscription is driving nearly 4,000 Eritreans to flee every month, a UN expert said on Thursday. The numbers escaping the autocratic Horn of Africa country have increased from around 3,000 per month at the beginning of the year, Sheila Keetharuth told reporters in Geneva, describing the exodus as “shocking”. “The first reason for this exodus, as I call it, is the national service,” said the UN’s monitor on the rights situation in Eritrea, referring to the system of open-ended conscription of all men and women at the age of 18. The national service, which Keetharuth equated with “forced labour”, as well as other serious rights violations committed under the iron-grip rule of President Issaias Afeworki were forcing ever more people to flee, she said.

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