Tigrai Onlne - February 12, 2014
On the morning of the 18 December last year Sam* walked up the narrow steps of a nondescript building in the back streets of Islington, north London. He was visiting the Eritrean embassy to inquire about his "clearance". This is the process every Eritrean in the diaspora must undergo if they want to have any dealings with their home country.
However, being cleared entails paying a 2% tax on all UK earnings to the Eritrean authorities. Without clearance Sam could not have his passport renewed, apply for a business permit in his home country, or even send a parcel of secondhand clothes to his family.
The diaspora tax was banned by the UN security council in 2011 (pdf). Resolution 2023, supported by the UK, condemned the tax because it was being used to fund "arms and related material" for rebel groups across the Horn of Africa.