The Lack of Political Space of the Eritrean Diaspora in the Arab Gulf and Sudan: Torn Between an Autocratic Home and Authoritarian Hosts
One third of Eritrea's citizens live in exile, and their government uses coercion, intimidation, and manipulation of patriotism to maintain financial flows from the diaspora through a rehabilitation tax and by delegating welfare responsibilities to its citizens abroad. Over one million Eritreans reside in Arab states, yet, we know little about their attitudes towards the homeland regime. Contrary to their compatriots in Europe and North America, they do not have political asylum and instead depend on work contracts for their residence permits. This makes them vulnerable to demands of transnational Eritrean institutions, which issue vital documents in exchange for fulfillment of financial obligations. The diasporic political space is doubly restricted, since authoritarian host states neither permit political activities, nor do they provide reliable protection from the Eritrean regime. This article explores the extent to which Eritreans in the Arab Gulf and Sudan can avert coercion by their home government, and how these states disempower diasporic contention.
Cover Image: Market in Asmara, Eritrea. Image by author.
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