Since the early 1960s, exiles have been fleeing from Eritrea to neighbouring Sudan, the Arab world, and more recently to the West. The independence war that saw Eritreans rise against the Ethiopian state after the annexation of the former Italian colony in 1962, raged until 1991 and caused massive population displacement. Ongoing violence and poverty created over one million refugees in the 1980s and continuous flows of emigrants until the beginning of the 1990s.
Eritrean independence, established in 1993, was expected to put refugees on their way back home. With the outbreak of a new war in 1998 and the authoritarian rule of Issayas Afewerki, however, new exiles have been created and the old exiles have been prevented from returning.