Eritrea - Regional Administration of Gash Barka: UNHCR and UNICEF sign letter of understanding for Gash Barka activities

News and Press Release
Originally published
Asmara, 17 April 2002 - UNHCR, UNICEF and the Regional Administration of Gash Barka concluded on Wednesday a Letter of Understanding focusing on water / sanitation, child protection, education, health/nutrition and communication for HIV/AIDS prevention and mine risk education activities in the Gash Barka Zone of western Eritrea. The parties agreed to join efforts in technical assessments, work plans and programming to address the social and economic reintegration needs of refugees returning to the region and the communities receiving them.
A key element of the recovery strategy is the policy framework and technical capacity provided by the Zonal Recovery Committee (ZRC), set up in the Gash Barka Zone in October 2001. This committee was originally formed with the Governor of Gash Barka as Chairperson, and UNHCR, ERREC and representatives of the concerned line ministries at the Zonal level as members. It has overall authority for co-ordinating, approving and overseeing all UNHCR-funded reintegration assistance projects in the Gash Barka Zone.

The Letter of Understanding stipulates UNICEF will join the ZRC as a member and provides for specific activities to be undertaken by the two UN agencies within the overall strategy of the Gash Barka Region through the ZRC. Specifically, activities within the agreement include the following:

Water / Sanitation: UNHCR will continue its programme of drilling of boreholes; water systems and equipment. UNICEF will take over from UNHCR the completion of seven water projects, installation of water pumps, construction of water points in schools and health stations as well as rehabilitation and protection of water wells and training of trainers for water / sanitation facility maintenance and management.

Child Protection: UNHCR and UNICEF will collaborate on information to identify similar / complementary beneficiaries and coordination of projects.

Health: UNICEF will equip UNHCR - funded health stations (6 in total for 2001-2002), and coordinate immunisation and nutrition interventions with UNHCR, pending additional funding.

Education: UNICEF will provide teaching and learning materials, particularly in those schools constructed and/or rehabilitated by UNHCR in areas of return. In agreement with the local administration, UNICEF will support peace education in schools and coordinate with ongoing UNHCR-funded peace education programmes.

Communication: In this sector, UNICEF will work closely with UNHCR to support HIV/AIDS prevention and mine risk education activities.

This Letter of Understanding follows on the joint signature by UNDP, UNHCR and the Governor of Gash Barka of the first such Letter, incorporating UNDP's participation in the ZRC structure for Recovery Activities. Further details on the Letters of Understanding and projects planned or being carried out within the framework of the Gash Barka Zonal Recovery Committee are available from UNHCR, UNDP and UNICEF:

UNHCR: Ms. Paula Ghedini, Co-ordinator (Reintegration). Tel. 126121, e-mail:

UNDP: Professor Techeste Ahderom, Senior Advisor on Recovery (Rehabilitation-Reconstruction-Reintegration). Tel: 181308, E-mail:

UNICEF: Ms. Rachel Odede, Communication Officer, and UNICEF. Tel. 150564, E-mail: , or Mr. Fred Ogwal-Oyee, Emergency Coordinator, UNICEF, Tel. 150571, e-mail: