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U.N. Probe: Horrific Abuses 'Systematic, Widespread' in Eritrea

Eritrea's government is responsible for systematic and widespread human rights abuses on an almost unprecedented scale, driving some 5,000 Eritreans to flee every month, a U.N. investigation said Monday.

Wrapping up a year-long investigation, a U.N. commission of inquiry on the human rights situation in Eritrea described a nightmare-like society in the authoritarian Horn of Africa state.

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Several Hurt in Calais Migrant Brawl

A brawl broke out in the early hours of Monday morning between Sudanese and Eritrean migrants in the northern French port of Calais, resulting in 24 injuries, 14 of which required hospital treatment.

According to the emergency services, the fight began after a makeshift tent was torched and escalated quickly into running battles with iron bars.

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EU Asks Member States to Admit 40,000 Asylum Seekers

The EU on Wednesday asked its member states to admit 40,000 asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea landing in Italy and Greece, which have been overstretched by an influx of migrants.

The emergency proposal, which comes atop another one to resettle in member states some 20,000 refugees who are outside Europe, is in response to a surge in migrants making the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean.

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Eritrea Says Rights Activists to Blame for Migrant Crisis

The secretive Horn of Africa state of Eritrea claimed Monday that human rights activists were partly to blame for the hordes of migrants heading to Europe.

The isolationist Red Sea dictatorship is one of the largest contributors to the exodus across the Mediterranean and has in the past also blamed a CIA conspiracy for the crisis.

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Boat Skipper Facing Mass Murder Charge over Migrant Disaster

The captain of a migrant boat that capsized in the Mediterranean's deadliest disaster in decades was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of causing the deaths of an estimated 800 people.

Prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Catania said they believed Tunisian national Mohammed Ali Malek, 27, was responsible for steering mistakes and the reckless overcrowding which led to the horrifying shipwreck off Libya on Sunday.

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U.N. Probe Finds 'Ruthless Repression', Rights Abuses in Eritrea

Eritrea's government is using the country's stand-off with arch-foe Ethiopia as a "pretext" to commit a litany of rights violations and ruthlessly repress opposition, United Nations investigators said Monday.

Eritrea is using the unfinished so-called "no war, no peace" state with Ethiopia to justify curtailing "most freedoms, from movement to expression, from religion to association," investigator Michael Smith told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

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Rights Group: Eritrea Frees Six Journalists

Six Eritrean journalists have been released from jail after six years, Reporters Without Borders said Thursday, calling it "exceptional" news in a country ranked worst in the world for press freedom.

The journalists, who worked for government radio stations, were rounded up during a "wave of arrests" in February 2009.

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Migrants from 'Drifting' Ship Arrive in Italy

Some 700 illegal migrants rescued from a ship near the Greek island of Corfu arrived in Italy on Wednesday, after their boat was intercepted while "drifting" towards the coast.

Dozens of official cars met the migrants as they arrived in the port of Gallipoli, in the southeast of Italy, at around 0230 GMT on Wednesday morning, according to an Agence France Presse reporter on the scene.

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Italy Police Bust Eritrean Boat Trafficking Ring

Italian police said Wednesday they had busted an Eritrean trafficking ring accused of smuggling migrants into Europe on perilous Mediterranean boat crossings, including one in which 244 people died.

Police arrested 10 Eritreans after an investigation uncovered "existence of a transnational organization, operating in Italy, Libya, Eritrea, and other North-African states," according to a statement released by police in Catania, Sicily where the investigation was launched in May.

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Eritrea Blames U.N. Refugee Agency for Thousands Fleeing

Eritrea said Friday the reason thousands of its youth are fleeing the hardline regime is because the U.N. refugee agency and countries with "sinister" motives are tempting them to leave.

Tens of thousands have now run away from the autocratic Horn of Africa country, escaping open-ended conscription and the iron-grip rule of President Issaias Afeworki, with many continuing northwards to brave the often harrowing journey towards Europe.

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