Eritrean migration to Europe, only transiting through Italy, has become increasingly visible, but relatively under-investigated and often misunderstood. Based on ethnographic research conducted in Eritrea, in Ethiopia and in Italy between 2012 and 2014, this article investigates the factors and the social dynamics for which most Eritrean refugees do not want to stop in Italy. The debate on secondary movements emphasizes the unfavorable economic conditions which push refugees to continue their journeys. It also stresses on the family ties which orient asylum seekers’ trajectories. However, it is rare to encounter analyses about how common social representations can influence migration practices. This study shows that Eritreans living in the homeland and abroad consider Italy a safe, but unsuitable destination country to build a prosperous future. This representation is partly rooted in the history of Eritrean migration and partly is the result of transnational flows of media information and individual experiences transmitted through Eritreans’ global informal networks.
Keywords: Eritrean refugees; Italy; transit migration; secondary movements; social representations; migratory destinations