Eritrea

Eritrea: Humanitarian Update 30 Jun 2005

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HIGHLIGHTS

The UN Secretary General in his recent report to the Security Council stated that the humanitarian situation continued deteriorating resulted from the lasting failure of rains and residual effects of the war compounded by the underperformance of the economy. The report also underlined the return and reintegration challenges of 30,000 IDPs/Expellees and 120,000 returnees from Sudan, plus maintaining the humanitarian support of 51,000 IDPs and expellees living in camps. To this end the Secretary General said " I appeal to the donor community to respond with a sense of urgency to the 2005-Consolidated Appeal for Eritrea in order to avert a rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country."

In a press release issued on 16 June 2005, the USAID in Eritrea stated that the US Government would provide 200,000 metric tons (MT) of wheat worth US$100 million, through existing Food for Peace programs. With this contribution, " U.S. food contributions to Eritrea will have more than tripled in this year from $60 million (providing 147, 550 MT of food aid) in 2004 to $200 million (providing over 350,000 MT) in 2005" the release added. The press release further said that to expedite the delivery of the food aid to its final destination, decision had been made to tap the U.S. Government grain reserve.

"With this commitment, the United States by itself will meet more than 100 percent of Eritrea's estimated needs for cereals this year" the press release concluded.

As the US donation covers only cereal needs, there is a deficit of about 34,000 MT of pulses and oil to complement the cereals. In addition, even though the therapeutic and supplementary feeding coverage has increased from 10 to 49 %, there is still a short fall of about 12,000 MT of supplementary food requirement to meet the nutritional requirement of 312,000 needy women and children.

The Eritrea 2005 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal (CAP) Mid Year Review (MYR) was launched together with other CAP MYR documents of 14 countries on 29 June 2005 in New York and Geneva. The Eritrea MYR document highlighted that the overall financial contributions to the CAP 2005 is similar to previous years of the same period with late pledging by the donor community. One fundamental difference between CAP 2004 and 2005 is that in non-food activities in particular, there were far fewer funds available for carry-over in 2005 than from the previous year, which has contributed to the delay in implementation of vital projects.

The document underscored that the most important emphasis in the coming months will be on improving response to food and food security projects with more emphasis given to nutrition, water, agriculture, recovery and coordination activities in order to avoid greater human suffering. In light of the changes in the context and consequent humanitarian needs, financial requirements have been revised to US$ 156.4 million from US$ 157.2. With the resources received so far (52.5 %) and with the revision of the projects cost, requirements for the remainder of 2005 total US$ 74.5 million.

The MYR concluded that the continuing shortages of agriculture inputs, including labour and quality seeds, combined with the economic hardship would require to humanitarian actors to maintain high levels of food aid inputs into 2006. (The Eritrea MYR document is available at www.reliefweb.int)

According to the Geneva Financial Tracking System, the donor response to the non-food sector has been low. This has resulted in huge deficit on sectors such as water and sanitation (US$ 5.2 million), health and nutrition (US$ 1.4 million), coordination and support service (US$ 660,000), basic recovery and infrastructure (US$ 2.5 million), multi-sector on reintegration (US $ 6 million), emergency shelter and household items (US$ 5.6 million) and emergency education (US$ 2.1 million). As a result, the efforts of humanitarian agencies and the impact of food aid in challenging the high level of malnutrition had been undermined.

The Government of Eritrea issued a Proclamation to determine the administration of national and international NGOs on 1 June 2005. The proclamation defines the powers and duties of government entities, rights and obligations of NGOs and activities of NGOs. In addition, the proclamation gives provision for NGOs to appeal to the High Court in case the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare rejects their application for registration or for renewal within 30 days of the Ministry's decision. The proclamation limits the NGOs intervention to relief and recovery activity putting their engagement in development activities subject for agreement with concerned ministry or agency. The proclamation further puts an operation floor in terms of capacity stating that "international NGO's shall prove that they have at their disposal in Eritrea two millions of US Dollars or its equivalent in other convertible currency, or technical or other capacity amounting to it, in order to enable them launch small-scale work aiming towards the achievement of their objectives." The national NGOs are required to have one million US Dollars. The proclamation further stipulated that all assets, liabilities and rights of the Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission (ERREC) which has been the humanitarian arm of the Government since 1996 has been transferred to the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare. The proclamation was put into effect since 1 June 2005 under proclamation number of 145/2005. (The proclamation is available in the market and could be obtained from Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare upon request)

WFP reported that the living conditions of the people is getting worse due to inflation and import restrictions: prices for basic food commodities have increased sharply, some commodities like sugar and soft drinks have disappeared from the market. The Government has been striving to stabilize the market through opening "fair public shops" but shortage of supply has rendered people for long queues. On related news the Ministry of Energy and Mines announced recently the increase of fuel prices. As the result, the price for petrol has increased from Nakfa 25 per liter to 32 (i.e. US$2.13) while the coupon system for petrol has been lifted except for diesel.

Locust swarms move across Sudan towards Eritrea. Latest reports on 12-16 June indicate that several immature and mature swarm left western Darfur and moved east across central Sudan. There is a chance that a few swarms may have already reached or will shortly appear in the western lowlands in Eritrea. Intensive surveys are required in both countries.

The World Bank in its recent press release stated that it has provided US$24 million to Eritrea to improve the health status of Eritreans with par ticular attention to reducing maternal mortality, and fighting malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS/STI. According to the press release, the Eritrea HIV/AIDS/STI, TB, Malaria and Reproductive Health Project aims to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections with particular attention to high-risk populations, improve detection and treatment for tuberculosis (TB), reduce the morbidity and mortality rate of malaria, and improve reproductive health coverage.

Eastern Sudan: it was reported that fighting broke out between Eastern Sudan rebels (Beja Congress and the Free Lions) and the Sudanese Government in mid June 2005. The Sudanese Government accused Eritrea of backing up the rebels politically and militarily while Eritrean authorities rejected these accusations. On the other hand, rebels accused the Sudanese Government of launching an intensive aerial bombing campaign on civilian targets in the Red Sea State in retaliation for losing a ground battle against the opposition Eastern Front. The UN Country Team, more specifically UNHCR, are monitoring the situation in order to respond to potential refugees' influx. So far, in the accessible areas, no population movements were reported.

WFP TARGETS 1.26 MILLION FOOD INSECURE ERITREANS

At the beginning of June WFP Executive Board approved the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) Eritrea 10192.1 "Food Assistance to Malnourished and Food-Insecure Populations". This PRRO will cater to the needs of 1.26 million malnourished and foodinsecure Eritreans over a period of two years starting from 1 September 2005. It will provide 464,000 MT of food commodities in relief and recovery-related activities. Both, the on-going emergency operation 10261 and PRRO 19192.0 will end on 31 August 2005.

The WFP field office in the western region of Gash Barka reported satisfactory rainfall during May and early June. Land preparation has already commenced in all parts of the region, sowing of finger millet and other long-period crop has been finalized. Nevertheless, drinking water remains scarce, since water tables are extremely low and require more extensive rainfall to reach to normal levels.

WFP commitment coverage for Emergency Operations (EMOP) 10261.01 stands at US$ 55.2 million or 154,300 MT of food, which is 74 percent of the required funding. The total commitment coverage of Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) 10192.0 has reached US$43.6 million, equivalent to 94,200 MT of commodities. These amounts represent 85 percent of the total funding requirements. Commitment coverage for the recently approved PRRO 10192.1 stands at US$ 427,351 or 980 MT of commodities.

RECOVERY PROGRAMMES UNDERWAY IN ERITREA

Riwyet School in Senafe, Debub region, was inaugurated on June 5, 2005. The Ministry of Education rehabilitated the school with UNICEF support with the aim of increasing school enrolment and retention of all children.

This school was totally destroyed during the war and is now refurbished and furnished to provide space for 950 students among whom many had been rendered out of school due to lack of space. Riwet is one of seven schools that UNICEF supports the Ministry of Education to rehabilitate/construct.

UNMEE MINE ACTION AND MINE RISK EDUCATION ACTIVITIES CONTINUE

Demining operations of the Peace Keeping Force assets, with the support of the commercial contractor, MECHEM, focused on mine fields in the Shilalo region of Sector West of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). These mine fields continue to be some of the most heavily mined areas in the TSZ. In total, the PKF assets cleared an area of 205,351 square meters and disposed of 32 Unexploded Ordnance (UXO). MECHEM cleared 279 km of roads and destroyed nine anti-personnel (AP) mines. MECHEM's Integrated Demining Capacity (IDC) Team supported integrated demining operations of the Kenyan engineers in the Grat Mariam minefield in Sector West, clearing 303,280 square meters.

The Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Field Team deployed to Tserona and Senafe in Sector Center and to Shilalo in Sector West disposed a total of 176 UXO.

The MACC Mine Risk Education (MRE) Field Teams deployed to Sector West, providing MRE to 828 people.

Mine/UXO Accidents

There were two reports of UXO incidents in Gash Barka zone in June. The first incident occurred on 12 June 2005 (Adi Hakin village) and the second incident occurred on 17 June 2005 (Baio village). The MACC Operations Section conducted preliminary investigations into the incidents. The preliminary investigation reports stated that one child and one adult sustained serious, but non-life threatening, injuries. Both incidents resulted from adult carelessness whilst supervising children in a dangerous environment. MACC Mine Risk Education teams will concentrate their efforts in these areas during the coming weeks. The preliminary investigation report can be obtained upon request from the UNMEE MACC Programme Manager.

UNDP SUPPORT TO NATIONAL MINE ACTION EXECUTION

The UNDP Mine Action Capacity Building Progr amme (MACBP) currently supporting the Eritrean Demining Authority (EDA) and the Eritrean Demining Operations (EDO) is continuing negotiation with the government on the release of impounded vehicles. The Government of Eritrea impounded all project vehicles in April this year resulting in the suspension of EOD and mine clearance activities.

No break through has currently been made regarding the release of the vehicles. Consequent to the current situation of vehicles, it has been only possible to maintain the mine risk education and victim support activities. Six MRE teams are conducting mine risk education in Sub Zobas Keren, Halhal, Adi Keih, Afabet and in villages of Tsada -kritian and Gahtelay. RONCO mine detector dogs (MDD) assisted by manual clearance teams have been conducting demining activities in Shilalo area.

For Further Information Related to the Humanitarian Update, Please contact:

OCHA - Eritrea Public Information Section at 291-1-151666/151888,
Fax- 291-1-151999, e-mail: gebrehiwots@un.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.