"We expect some results to come after we furnish those donors we met with the latest available information" of what is most urgently needed, Simon Nhongo, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Eritrea, said on Friday. Donor representatives asked aid agencies to provide them with a prioritised list of what was most urgently needed.
"But even this really doesn't amount to a lot, particularly when you consider it will take from four to six months for any pledges made to arrive here," he told a news briefing.
Nhongo said now the US-led war on Iraq had begun, aid agencies had serious concerns about the provision and delivery of food aid to Eritrea. As a large portion of the invasion of Iraq is being staged from the Red Sea, the cost of shipping food to Eritrea is likely to increase, perhaps dramatically, he said. This logistical difficulty could also very well lead to significant delays in the delivery of food aid.
If previous pledges do not arrive shortly, there is likely to be a suspension in the delivery of emergency relief beginning at the end of April, when the current stock of food aid will run out.
Given the current global crisis, it is all but inevitable that a number of Eritrea's 2.3 million drought affected and vulnerable populations "are going to have to fend for themselves", he warned.
"The situation is really quite desperate and dire," he stressed. "It is obvious that the situation is going to be quite difficult. The normal coping mechanisms are already almost completely exhausted."
Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129
[This Item is Delivered to the "Africa-English" Service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: IRIN@ocha.unon.org or Web: http://www.irinnews.org . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Reposting by commercial sites requires written IRIN permission.]
Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2003