- The Government of Eritrea formed a committee
to coordinate drought response;
- OCHA organised a donor meeting in Geneva
on 27 January 2003;
- ERREC says due to the delayed arrival
of pledges and very low available stocks, it has not yet been possible
to stretch food aid distribution beyond 600,000 beneficiaries;
- Number of Eritrean refugees in camps in Sudan currently registered to repatriate reaches 32,571.
The Government of Eritrea issued a proclamation, on 30 January 2003, on the formation of National Drought Relief Coordinating Committee for all governmental and non-governmental organisations engaged in relief work.
The proclamation underlined that all governmental and non-governmental organisations dealing with relief work in Eritrea have a duty to cooperate with the committee.
Donor Meeting Held in Geneva
Considering the gravity of the implication of the drought in the Horn of Africa including Eritrea, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) organised a donor meeting in Geneva on 27 January 2003. A joint delegation from the Government of Eritrea and the UN system attended the meeting and sensitised the donor participants on the serious humanitarian conditions posed by the sever drought threat. The delegation appreciated the support so far but also appealed for the speedy and generous responses. Eritrea,Ethiopia and Somalia presented their respective humanitarian briefings. Separate discussions were also held with some of the donor missions resident in Geneva.
Prior to this, a joint mission drawn from UNICEF and WFP toured the four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway andSweden) in January, where the humanitarian situation in Eritrea was brought to the attention of senior donor offices and the media.
Both missions were reported to be effective in shedding light to donors, media and the international community understanding of the drought threat as a serious and worrisome, unless countered with immediate and adequate response.
The emergency food needs remains critical that require urgent attention. Food commodity stock in the country dropped to its lowest level ever.
Only 15,834 MT arrived Massawa at the end of January. The pipeline is also low with 35,094 MT food expected to arrive in February, the total pledges and commitments, including what arrived in January stands at 112,360 MT. This brings the total food aid commitment to 23.6% of the total food aid requested by ERREC for the year 2003.
However, due to the delayed arrival of pledges and very low available stocks, it has not yet been possible to stretch food aid distribution beyond 600,000 beneficiaries that existed since May 2002.
The food Security Sub-group of the Drought Task Force had issued an appeal worth ofUSD 36 Million to combat the impacts of the drought on agriculture and livestock. The appeal contains 15 project components requesting assistance in seeds, fertilizers, tools, animal feed, veterinary services and water supply.
According to the reports compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture, the confirmed funds available to the various sub-components of the food security appeal are USD 3,900,157. Most of these fundsare related to NGO projects formulated or approved in 2002 prior the onset of the current drought.
ERREC warned that, unless urgent response is made, households with weakened reserves after the fourth year of drought conditions were to face the danger of exhausting productive assets- such as eating seed grains or selling breeding animals- in order to meet basic needs, further increasing their vulnerability to future catastrophes.
Health and Nutrition
Out of the 2.3 million people affected by the drought and/or war who are in need of food assistance, over 400,000 are estimated children under five years and lactating or pregnant mothers. Their nutritional conditions are progressively deteriorating due to the shortages of general rations as well as nutritional supplements.
According to the latest surveys, 15-28% of children under five years (at least 88,000 children of those surveyed) are currently malnourished and 10,000 are severely malnourished, requiring immediate nutritional support.
The stock balance of supplementary food items at the close of January was only 97 MT, comprising of CSB, DSM, Biscuits and sugar. The combined stock and expected shipments/orders by WFP, UNICEF and Italian Cooperation of supplementary food item would reach 2,776 MT.
The school feeding programmes by WFP and Mercy Corps International are reaching 114,000 school children in 120 primary schools in the six zones.
The Health and Nutrition Task Force agreed to refocus on the previousstructure. Hence, it would be divided in to Health and Nutrition Sectoral Working Group and Food Aid Sectoral Working Group.The Health and Nutrition would be chaired by the Ministry of Health and facilitated by UNICEF and the Food Aid by ERREC and facilitated by WFP respectively.
Water and Sanitation
The Water and Sanitation Sectoral Working Group on its recent meeting revealed that the drought threat was still posing problems in many areas of the country despite the effort that was being done by the humanitarian actors. To get an update on the situation a new assessmentsurvey was being planned.
It is to be recalled that the Sectoral Working Group had appealed for financial assistance worth of USD 4 million to combat the water probleminduced by drought.
The 15th meeting of Military Coordination Commission from both Eritrea and Ethiopia was held in Nairobi on 29 January 2003. Major General Robert Gordon, the UN's Force Commander, announced that demining of the routes needed for border demarcation sites was about to begin and called both sides to build mutual confidence.
In similar news, Members of the Security Council, on 7 January 2003, urged Eritrea and Ethiopia to continue to extend their full cooperation to the UNMEE and EECB in order to ensure the smooth demarcation of the border between the two countries. Similarly the Council members called on the international community to contribute urgently to the Trust Fund in order to facilitate the conclusion of the demarcation process in accordance with the EEBC's schedule.
The council members expressed further concern about the looming drought in Eritrea and Ethiopia and the implications this could have for the peace process. They supported the appeal by the Secretary General to member states to provide prompt and generous support for humanitarian operations in the two countries through the Consolidated Appeals Process and other mechanisms.
The recovery programme formulation mission for Eritrea conducted its appraisal from 13- 23 January 2003 in Asmara. The committee for the recovery programme composed of government, UN and donor members had been working in assembling baseline data to help set up priorities. To this end, respective experts are in process of preparing a programme document, which would serve as an integrated programme for the UNDAF recovery thematic component in 2003 -2005.The target areas are Dubub, Gash Barka and Northern Red Sea zones.
SITUATION OF CAMPS
There has been no major movement of IDPs. According to ERREC Mendefera, new IDP camp of 272 individuals was established on 20 August 2002 in Monoxoito displaced from a village Kole-Gerala due to continuing insecurity posed by Ethiopia militias.
IDPs in Dembedoran are suffering from sever shortage of water. The IDPs are heavily relying on Dongolo River, about three hours of walk from the camp. Due to shortage of rains, the river bed is nearly dry.
Recent assessment conducted in IDP camps by OCHA Mendefera and ICC in Debub and Gash Barka respectively show that the IDPs are facing serious problems of firewood. Provision of Kerosene was highly recommended.
Repatriation of Nationals
On 28 December 2002, 154 Eritrean civilians were repatriated from Ethiopia under the auspices of the ICRC. Five of the 154 were children, who were reunited with their families in Eritrea. In the course of the same operation, an Ethiopian child was repatriated from Eritrea to reunite with his family.
Repatriation from the Sudan
The voluntary repatriation did not progress since 8 July 2002.According to UNHCR, the number of Eritreans in camps in Sudan currently registered to repatriate reached 32,571 as of 31 December 2002.
According to UNMACC, on 7 February 2003 an UXO incident happened in Shilalo area involving two boys. One of the boys was injured and the other one was immediately killed.
In response to the UXO incident Mine Risk Education team was deployed and conducted sessions for an audience of 20 families and on a second session for 20 children. Two days later on 9 February, a passenger bus heading to Mai-Ambesaran over a mine in the outskirts of the town, injuring six persons.
In related news on 9 February 2003 a tractor detonated anti-tank mine near Bimbina killing one person and injuring another one. Two days later a truck with 20 civilians hit a mine on Mailam- Bushuka road, 15 km west of Mailam, three passengers reported injured.
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