Eritrea, known as Africa’s most secretive state, is a country where few foreign journalists gain entry, and those who do are closely monitored. Two men managed to gain access, providing a rare glimpse into life inside the nation. They found that Eritrea, under the rule of Isaias Afwerki since 1993, is a country in which the government exercises extensive control. The men observed that Eritreans live under constant surveillance and fear of arbitrary arrest. They also found that many Eritreans, including children, are forced into indefinite military or civil service, often working for little or no pay.

The country’s economy is in a dire state, with many people dependent on remittances from relatives abroad. The capital, Asmara, is marked by its Italian colonial architecture, but beneath the surface, the city is struggling. Basic commodities are in short supply, and power cuts are frequent.

Despite the hardships, the men found that Eritreans are resilient, with some expressing hope for a better future. However, many are choosing to flee the country, braving dangerous journeys in search of a better life. The UN estimates that about 5,000 people leave Eritrea every month, making it one of the world’s fastest-emptying nations.

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