Eritrea

Eritrea: Committee formed to coordinate drought response

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NAIROBI, 30 January (IRIN) - Eritrea has announced the formation of a coordination committee for all organisations involved in combating the drought in the country.
A government proclamation said the Committee for Coordination and Follow-up applied to all governmental and non-governmental organisations involved in drought operations, and would be led by the Minister of Labour and Human Welfare.

"The Proclamation further underlines that all governmental and non-governmental organisations participating in fighting the threat of drought in Eritrea are obliged to cooperate with this Committee," the ruling party's Shaebia website said.

Some two thirds of the country's population are at risk of severe food shortages. Labour and Human Welfare Minister Askalu Menkerios, speaking in Geneva on Wednesday, appealed for more food aid.

"This is the worst drought we have faced," she told journalists, after meeting donors to discuss the drought situation in the Horn of Africa.

In November, the government and the UN launched an appeal for US $163.4 million for 2003, but the response so far has been minimal.

Simon Nhongo, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Eritrea, warned at the time that a lacklustre response from donor countries could seriously stifle the country's rehabilitation, following its two-year border war with Ethiopia.

It is estimated that Eritrea's cereal harvest will suffer an 84 percent reduction.

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