Source: New York Times

French President Francois Hollande says “maximal” political and diplomatic pressure should be applied on the “unscrupulous leaders” of Eritrea, whose citizens have been fleeing in droves for years to Europe.

Hollande said Eritrea “is becoming empty of its own population.” He spoke Wednesday at a European Union-African summit on migrants in Malta.

Eritreans are fleeing what human rights watchdogs call an oppressive state, where jailing can last indefinitely and conscription can last years. They constitute one of the largest groups from Africa seeking asylum in Europe. Tens of thousands have escaped to Europe, many making perilous sailings in smugglers’ boats across the Mediterranean to Italy.

Hollande said that Europe’s dealings with Eritrea require “a job to be done which is political, and which needs a strict and demanding diplomacy.”