Overview: The Government of Eritrea took positive steps toward engagement with the United States on law enforcement and security in 2020. U.S. officials have a nascent, limited relationship with local law enforcement in Asmara, which allows for basic information sharing. However, a broader lack of transparency from the Eritrean government means there was no clear picture of the methods it used to track terrorists or protect its population.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Eritrea in 2020.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: COVID-19 and the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia, have challenged Eritrea’s border security measures. With commercial passenger air service suspended since late March because of COVID-19, more than 26,000 Eritreans returned through “irregular routes,” primarily from Sudan and Ethiopia. The conflict in Tigray also likely caused some residents of Tigray to seek safety in Eritrea; however, no figures are available and UN institutions have not been able to travel to the border region.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: No significant updates since 2019. Eritrea is an observer in the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), a FATF-style regional body. Eritrea is also a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which has a maritime security program that concentrates on building the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Countering Violent Extremism: The government employs awareness raising campaigns, early warning tools, and community-level engagement to prevent and counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment. It actively cultivates an ethos of social inclusion and mutual respect across the nine traditional ethnic groups, as well as among the four authorized religious denominations that make up a part of Eritrean society. There are no known Eritrean foreign terrorist fighters in Iraq or Syria.
International and Regional Cooperation: Eritrea participated in the UN Security Council’s March 11 discussion on “Countering Terrorism and Extremism in Africa.” To the best of Department of State knowledge, COVID restrictions prevented Eritrean officials from physically attending international conferences this year.