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If Progress is Regression? What is Stability?

Every once in a while the BBC publishes a piece that is on point. Unfortunately, when it comes to news from the Horn of Africa this is rarely the case. In particular, when it comes to Eritrea, the BBC will only publish an article if it negatively reports on the news in Eritrea. The most recent example1 ( which is also mimicked by the Economist,2 a similarly biased [against Eritrea] publication) is interesting, although I would like to discuss the ICG report in-depth, I think its important that there be a discussion about Eritrea’s progress towards the MDG’s (and its human development in general) and I would like to take a moment to discuss the media’s second-hand reporting. I find articles such as this frustrating, however, I also like to try to learn something from every piece that I read. Often we can find some insight just with a little bit of critical reading.

What is interesting is the timeline of the report (I am not implying that the ICG timed its report specifically, however I think its publication time is suspect). Consider within a weeks time another UN report, specifically on the ability of developing nations to meet the MDGs (Millenium Development Goals) was published. The first reports derided Eritrea for its poor performance in some areas3 while subsequent reports lauded Eritrea for its ability to meet others4 (education v health, respectively). Interestingly I’ve written about Eritrea’s progress towards the MDG’s myself here.

Furthermore this piece comes at a time just weeks after the “opposition” conference in Addis Ababa (which has, almost universally, been rejected by the participants).5 So if you carefully note the series of events, on almost a weekly schedule there has been a negative news item about Eritrea, while the only non-Eritrean media positive news item came as an afterthought to a negative news item.

Although there is not inherently a requirement that the ratio be 1:1, the regularity of the negative news items is suspicious. Furthermore, it ought to be considered that the individual news items need to be read carefully and not assumed by their titles. For instance, the education item which at first blush seems negative is actually quite positive (spread of education throughout the country). Further, the negative report about Eritrea’s progress does not point to regression of progress but rather points out that at current rates Eritrea will not be able to achieve that particular education goal.

Another very interesting point brought up by this piece from the International Crisis Group, is the note that the actions of the international community are what is pushing Eritrea into a corner; meaning the direction is not of our own choosing. This point cannot be emphasized enough because the crux of the Eritrean situation is an abdication by the international actors of responsibilities towards the defining issue of our era, the border with Ethiopia. By allowing this decided issue to fester they have delayed indefinitely our march forward.

Of course Eritreans always search for alternatives to obstacles, as we have done throughout our history, we will circumvent (go around), overcome (jump over), or punch through all the obstacles in our way!


  1. Eritrea may become failed state, warns think tank 

  2. The worst place to go to school 

  3. Report lists world’s worst place to be a school child 

  4. Eritrea reducing maternal death, on track to achieve the MDGs 

  5. www.meskerem.net 

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