The 2015 Freedom House report on Freedom in the World has included Eritrea in its list of the twelve countries with the lowest possible rating for both political rights and civil liberties. According to Human Rights Watch, the majority of “able-bodied” adult Eritreans are now on “indefinite, compulsory” active national service that will oftentimes extend over decades. This is one of the reasons why, 27 years after the end of the bloody struggle for independence from Ethiopia, as many as five thousand people a month flee the Eritrean dictatorship, making the country one of the world’s largest sources of refugees.
Since the beginning of the year, I have been photographing the football team „Ze Berlin“. The footballers are Eritrean as well as Ethiopian refugees between the ages of 16 and 26 who, despite the conflict-ridden history between their home countries, train together three times a week. Most of them have come to Germany alone – on the football pitch they find connections and a sense of belonging, not least due to a shared culture, history and language.