Inside Eritrea: Conscription and poverty drive exodus from secretive African state

by David Smith

Russom, whose name has been changed here for his own protection, was giving a rare account of a military bootcamp in Eritrea, one of Africa’s most secretive totalitarian states. It forms part of a compulsory “national service” for young men and women, an indefinite purgatory that robs them of the best years of their lives and is the key to understanding why so many flee its borders