The Eritrean authorities continue to gag all forms of free expression and recently arrested another journalist as he was trying to flee the country, Reporters Without Borders said, on the eve of the ninth anniversary of the start of a brutal political purge in Asmara on 18 September 2001. The organisation wrote to the British authorities yesterday urging them to prosecute one of the purge’s organisers, who now lives in Britain.

Kibrom Sebhatu, 45, is among hundreds of Eritreans expected to benefit from a recent Ethiopian government ruling allowing Eritrean refugees to live outside the camps. “I am happy that UNHCR [the UN Refugee Agency] and the government of Ethiopia agreed to let us live outside the camps. I hope this will open a new era in Ethiopia-Eritrea relations,” Sebhatu said. He joined the Shimelba Refugee camp, along the border with Eritrea, in 2006, after serving in the Eritrean army.

In 2000 President Isayas suffered his worst military defeat and humiliation but he turned the event to his personal political advantage. This is central to the continued feud between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Isolation from the rest of the world, particularly the West and hostility towards Ethiopia are fundamental pillars that prop up the current regime- the reason that this system of government came into being and what sustains it every day.

Long before he learned to dunk on warped wooden backboards, Awet Eyob nursed a dream: to play basketball in America. He is 6-foot-8, built like an oak tree, and seems to have mastered a behind-the-back dribble and crisp passes from the corner of his eye. But one big problem stood between him and his dream: his homeland, Eritrea, an isolated, secretive nation in the Horn of Africa that is refusing to let its young people leave.

Last month, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a division of the State Department, recommended that the US deter foreign mining in Eritrea following allegations of religious oppression taking place in the small African nation. "The U.S. government should...prohibit any foreign company's raising capital or listing its securities in the United States while engaged in developing Eritrea's mineral resources," the report read.