Riots Erupt Between Rival Eritrean Groups in The Hague

On February 18th, 2023, violent clashes broke out in The Hague, Netherlands between opposing Eritrean factions, leading to chaotic scenes of fires and property damage across the city. Riot police were mobilized along with tear gas and emergency orders to contain the situation which apparently stemmed from an event held by Eritrean government loyalists that anti-government opponents stormed.

This troubling incident highlights divisions within the Eritrean diaspora in Europe – let’s analyze events and the backdrop fueling tensions.

The Spark – Confrontation at a Conference

The rioting originated at the Opera conference center where pro-government Eritreans had convened a meeting. Eyewitness reports suggest opposing Eritreans attacked the venue, vandalizing property and attempting to break inside to disrupt proceedings.

Enraged government supporters then spilled onto the streets, pelting police with rocks and torched vehicles when thwarted from entering the building. Chaos rapidly escalated.

While the exact catalyst remains unknown, clashes frequently erupt at polarized Eritrean community events across Europe. Disagreements often trace back to views on the authoritarian Eritrean regime and its system of compulsory military service.

A Violent Night of Destruction

As violence spread in The Hague, the situation grew increasingly severe:

  • Hundreds flooded streets as skirmishes broke out
  • Rioters launched bicycles, traffic signs, and fireworks at police
  • Several vehicles were set ablaze, including a public transit bus
  • Damage reported across wide radius surrounding original flashpoint
  • Tear gas employed by riot police to disperse crowds
  • Mayor enacted emergency order restricting access within 500 meter zone
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After hours of bedlam, authorities finally restored stability – but the aftermath left visible scars.

Why The Eritrean Diaspora Remains So Divided

Eritrea’s questionable human rights record under authoritarian President Isaias Afwerki has driven waves of migrants to Europe for decades, expandings expatriate communities.

Within these diaspora circles, passionate divisions continue simmering between regime supporters and opponents seeking refuge:

  • Loyalists – Typically back home authoritarian policies like indefinite military conscription
  • Opposition – Accuse government of repression and mistreatment; demand reforms

Clashes frequently erupt around cultural events or diaspora organizational activities, as opposing factions live in close diaspora proximity.

Understanding this context helps explain why relatively minor provocations can spill into violence between the divided groups. Unresolved political turmoil from back home spills out into adopted European homeland.

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Why Recent Escalations Should Concern Europe

The riotous scenes from The Hague may represent part of a dangerous pattern as tensions boil over:

  • Eritreans are a significant segment of African migrants in Europe
  • Diaspora communities are concentrated in various urban centers
  • Rivalry remains baked into these groups abroad

Prior incidents include:

  • September 2023 – Stuttgart, Germany festival clashes injured dozens
  • September 2023 – Brawl in Tel Aviv, Israel between factions
  • Earlier 2023 – 22 police wounded at Eritrean event in Germany

As more violent episodes flare up, European leaders face difficulties balancing ideals of multicultural inclusion with realities of diaspora groups importing unresolved conflict.

While Eritreans absolutely deserve empathy given repression driving migration, host countries also rightly demand assimilation and order. Ongoing inter-group violence threatens the latter.

Paths Toward Reconciliation?

Restoring harmony between entrenched political enemies requires monumental efforts from multiple stakeholders. Several constructive solutions could help ease tensions:

Grassroots Mediation

  • Bridge-building dialogue between diaspora factions and leadership
  • Common understanding that violence undermines all

Restrict Radical Events

  • Limit government/opposition isolation at events
  • Neutral community oversight at gatherings

Police Community Engagement

  • Proactively coordinate with diaspora groups
  • Faster response when intelligence detects emerging clashes
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Reform Access/Asylum Rules

  • Weed out radical elements lacking peaceful intent
  • Prioritize non-violent opposition refugees

Finding remedy means well-intentioned voices from diaspora communities, law enforcement, political leadership, and allies must unite in chorus for change.


The riots in The Hague offer another troubling sign that polarization among exiled Eritreans remains dangerously unsolved. As more violent eruptions occur across European cities, the need for reconciliation and integration grows more urgent.

With willingness on all sides, solutions exist to ease simmering divisions. But the longer hostility dominates diaspora group relations, the harder achieving sustainable harmony becomes. One can only hope sanity soon prevails to break the brutal cycle so more cities avoid scenes reminiscent of war zones.


  • Subin Gurung

    Subin Gurung, the Anime Category Expert at, blends years of anime-watching expertise with insightful reviews. The platform, encompassing a blog, review site, and anime database, benefits from his deep understanding of genres, directors, and series. Subin's diverse interests, including organizing anime conventions, reflect his multifaceted persona, enhancing the overall experience for the anime community on the site.

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