Humanitarian efforts in Eritrea face funding crisis

New York, 10 March 2003 - As part of the UN's effort to maintain the aid pipeline to Eritrea, Mr. Simon Nhongo, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Eritrea, will arrive in New York on 11 March to speak to a group of key donors. Humanitarian efforts in Eritrea are facing a funding crisis as the UN Consolidated inter-Agency Appeal for Eritrea has received so little of the of $ 163,389,457 million required - just 2 percent - that there is a good possibility aid reserves will run out by the end of the month.
The Appeal was launched in November 2002 to help 2.3 million of Eritrea's 3.2 people in areas such as food, water and health. So far, UN Agencies have received just 25% of the food they will need to meet the needs of Eritreans in 2003.

Seeking to increase donor support for the appeal, Mr. Nhongo and members of the UN country team for Eritrea spoke with officials from US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington last week. On Monday, 10 March, they will meet with representatives of Canadian aid Agencies in Ottawa.

Food shortages in Eritrea have become critical. A combination of drought and the lingering effects of war have left Eritreans' coping mechanisms at an all-time low. At a time when the country is moving away from humanitarian relief towards rehabilitation and recovery, it is again faced with another year of severe drought following the failure of seasonal rains. An estimated 1.4 million people are affected by the drought, out of a population of 3.29 million.

The drought had lead to widespread crop failures and water shortages. In addition, Eritrea suffers the continuing effects of war and generalized poverty, including the need to ensure a safe environment for the return of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs), expellees and returning refugees and their reintegration in many parts of the country. The urgency of demobilization, demining, and territorial demarcation to consolidate peace and stability remains as strong as ever.

The population now considered vulnerable has increased from 1.36 million in 2001-2002 to an estimated 2.3 million with much of the increase as a result of the widespread drought.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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