Sbhatu started his career in 2009 after graduating from university when he was recruited by the Eritrean Ministry of Information, as part of his compulsory national service. There, he worked as a radio presenter, producer, and editor, covering politics, sports, and entertainment for the Tigre language radio Dimtsi Hafash.
In 2012, Wahab Michael Sbhatu produced a radio documentary entitled ‘Libya: Where to Where?’, focusing on Libya and the developments during the Arab Spring. As a result, he experienced a period of intense censorship and persecution.
During the 2010s, Eritrea went through a period of turmoil and the government tightened their control over the media, leading him to flee to Sudan in 2015. There, he continued his journalistic and activist work, writing articles on human rights violations and secretly disseminating them. Wahab has been documenting and reporting human rights abuses committed against Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in Sudan, including monitoring migration routes and trends, as well as human smuggling and trafficking. His reports have been crucial for the advocacy work of Africa Monitors in protecting Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in Sudan.
As a journalist, Sbhatu also reports on issues related to the general situation in Eritrea. Due to this and his previous employment at the Eritrean Ministry of Information, he faced security threats by Eritrean intelligence agents in Sudan, monitoring his work and movements.
In 2018, Wahab, together with fellow journalists, founded Radio Saeyob, a project on which he is still working. In 2022, Sbhatu collaborated with other Eritrean journalists to have Radio Saeyob broadcast on ERISAT satellite TV, where it is still on air.
However, when his whereabouts in Sudan were made public, Sbhatu was, once again, threatened and attacked, leaving him unable to work and express himself freely. Kristiansand ICORN City of Refuge offered Sbhatu an ICORN residency and he arrived in Norway in January 2023.
Since arriving in Norway, Wahab Michael Sbhatu has continued his journalistic work and his engagement with issues of freedom of expression. During the 2023 ICORN Network Meeting in Brussels, Wahab took part in the event ‘Conversations with Friends’ discussing the topic of ‘identity making and unmaking in exile’, together with Dessale Berekhet and Mengesha Habte.
You can read Wahab Michael Sbhatu's ICORN resident profile here.
Kristiansand ICORN City of Refuge
Located in southern Norway, Kristiansand has been hosting writers, artists, and journalists facing persecution since 1998. While the municipality of Kristiansand is the official member of ICORN, it is the Kristiansand Public Library which manages the ICORN residency programme in the city. Since becoming a City of Refuge, Kristiansand has hosted nine ICORN residents, including Song Chi, Mengesha Habte, Michel Biem Tong, and currently Wahab Michael Sbhatu.