Explaining the undesirable nature of becoming an immigrant, President Isaias Afewerki mentioned Israel to emphasize the objectionable life Eritrean refugees experience.
He said Eritreans are languishing in Israel’s refugee camps, which he quickly paraphrased “Concentration camps”, to quote the President’s exact words: “When you consider the life of those in camps, concentration camps, of Israel you can’t even say there is anything worst or more horrific than that.”
Regarding other Eritrean refugee destinations he said. “even in other cities, European cities, you can’t say [Eritreans] are having any life that has much meaning”
The President said that the country has suffered absolutely no set backs due to citizens leaving the country. The only damage, he explained, is to these individuals themselves. He repeatedly pleaded Eritreans to return, “for your own sake, please return to your country.”
In an effort to discourage those planning to flee the country, the President challenged youth not to be shortsighted and instead to, “think in-terms of where you’ll be in five or six years time”. “The things you are loosing today” he remarked, “you can’t gain back tomorrow.”
He advised the youth not to succumb to trivial thinking such as, “I don’t have enough salary, or I don’t have any salary; I don’t have this and that; my family are going through this or that; my mother is suffering because of this or that, … and I’ll go abroad and send her money.”
The interview was conducted by the State media (the only media in the country) on the occasion of “Fenkil” military victory commemoration (February 10, 1990).
“When you consider the life of those in camps, concentration camps, of Israel you can’t even say there is anything worst or more horrific than that.” ~Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki, February 2014