In October 2014, the Eritrean Government announced it will retire the old Eritrean national ID cards that were issued before the referendum of 1993 and replace them with new ID cards.
The announcement had indicated the new ID will be digitally printed, unlike the old ID that was hand written. According to government sources, the old ID cards were “relatively easy to forge,” which resulted in “many African migrants — mostly from Ethiopia — using fake Eritrean IDs to gain asylum in the West.”
Disturbed by the influx of large numbers of Eritrean refugees reaching European shores, the government used the issuing of the new ID cards as a tool to ameliorate the embarrassment. For instance, the government had claimed that out of the 36,000 Eritrean refugees who were in Israel as of 2014, “based on the Eritrean government findings, they believe at least half (18,000)” were Eritreans. The rest, according to the sources, were African immigrants “from Ghana to Ethiopia… are claiming they are Eritrean refugees.”