In May 1998 a border war broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The two countries eventually signed an interim peace plan and ceasefire following renewed fighting in May 2000.
In September 2000 the UN peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) deployed the first 15 UN military observers. This was followed by the deployment of 4,200 military personnel, to ensure that hostilities between the two countries come to an end.
As a consequence of the fighting thousands of Eritreans moved away from their farms and homes into camps. Many are now returning home, though the landmines that litter some areas make this a dangerous option.
Christian Aid's programme in Eritrea has been scaled back since Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1991. This is mainly due to the Government of Eritrea's wish to be more self-sufficient. At present, there is little role for organisations other than the state, either Eritrean or international. In response to this situation, Christian Aid will honour its commitment to the following projects but will not fund any further development work in the foreseeable future. The situation in Eritrea will be monitored and Christian Aid remains committed to the future of the Eritrean people and open to the possibility of responding if an emergency situation arises
Christian Aid is supporting the Lutheran World Federation, through Action for Churches Together (ACT) with their programme to rehabilitate schools, re-stock cattle and improve water supply for the population affected by the war.
The Agency for Co-operation and Research in Development (ACORD) is running a savings and credit project in southern Eritrea, with the support of Christian Aid. The project is in an area that was badly affected by the conflict with Ethiopia. ACORD is one of the few development NGOs operating in Eritrea at present, and it aims to enable poor people to improve their incomes and livelihoods.