Eritrea

UNICEF Emergency Programmes: Eritrea Donor Update 24 Feb. 2000

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1. Emergency overview and recent developments
The border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia flared up into a major conflict in May 1998 and into a full-scale war in February 1999. The area initially disputed was the Badme region, between the Setit and Mareb/Gash rivers. In June 1998, the conflict expanded to other border areas such as Zala-Ambessa, Aiga/Alitena in the Debub region of Eritrea, and Bure, west of the port city of Assab, creating an extended 1000-km front line. Ground battles accompanied by heavy artillery bombardment and air strikes resulted in civilian casualties and displacement of approximately 350,000 people, mostly from the regions of Debub and Gash-Barka. Almost 200,000 people of host communities in the affected areas have also been severely affected by the conflict and now depend on relief assistance.

Another unfortunate humanitarian aspect the escalating hostilities has been the deportation and expulsion of Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin by the Ethiopian Government. More than 63,000 people have been deported to-date, including approximately 20,000 children. The war, compounded by the forceful deportation and displacement of the population, has created urgent humanitarian needs including shelter, emergency health requirements, nutrition, safe water supply, sanitation and hygiene, education and psychosocial rehabilitation of the deported and displaced children and their families.

The hope of resolving the conflict peacefully has so far not been realised. Several initiatives have been advanced, with the OAU Peace Proposals being the most promising, though no agreement is yet in sight. The conflict in Kosovo, though thousand miles away, had a direct impact in terms of diverting diplomatic and donor attention. Donor response to the Appeal has been minimal.

In the conflict areas, most specifically the Debub region, aerial bombardments in June worsened the situation of the already displaced population. Many local communities simply sought refuge in the valleys and mountains. Entire districts adjacent to border areas around Zala-Ambessa and Tsorona are completely deserted. The total number of displaced and deported people in this region alone has now reached 148,000 with 17 camps established for them. A similar situation is prevailing in the Gash-Barka region further in the western and northwestern flank, where there are 14 camps hosting some 110,000 internally displaced and deportee populations. The displaced population, mostly farmers, labourers and small traders, depend largely on relief assistance.

2. UNICEF’s Response: Activities, Achievements, and Constraints

In the wake of hostilities in February 1999, UNICEF acted rapidly by reprogramming US$ 665,000 of Country Programme funds, and releasing US$ 435,000 from the Emergency Programme Fund to provide high energy supplementary foods for 31,750 children under five, and pregnant and lactating women among the affected populations. Part of the funds was used to supply essential drugs, water bladders, water purification tablets and chemicals, blankets, jerry cans, vaccines, health kits, mosquito bed-nets, ORT corners, sanitation facilities and water tanker services in the camps. The authorisation of USAID to use an earmarked contribution of US$ 135,000 to health services for the provision of essential drugs greatly helped to meet the needs in this area. In July, Dutch funds amounting to US$ 736,700 were received for supplementary feeding and related. The funds are being utilised for the supply of DMK/UNIMIX, expansion of the DMK factory, nutritional assessment in the camps and monitoring of programme activities in the affected areas. The USAID/OFDA US$250,000 was received in August for supplementary feeding in the camps. The Danish Government has made available US$197,157 for emergency education interventions. The psychosocial needs assessment of children affected by the conflict was completed in August, while the assessment of the magnitude and situation of unaccompanied children is in progress.

3. Funding Status as of 31 December 1999

Sector
Target
Funded
% Funded
Unfunded
Nutrition
3,786,200
1,427,682
37.7%
2,358,518
Education
3,187,580
197,157
6.1%
2,990,423
Shelter Items
1,196,990
154,700
12.9%
1,042,290
Water/Sanitation
963,000
200,000
20.7%
763,000
Health
335,000
135,000
40.2%
200,000
Psycho Care
172,000
130,000
75.5%
42,000
Total
$ 9,640,770
$ 2,244,539
23.2%
$ 7,396,231

1999 Contributions by Donor US$ (as of 31December 1999)
Donor
Income/Pledge
Purpose
NETHERLANDS
773,520
Nutrition/Supplementary Feeding
USAID/OFDA
250,000
Nutrition/Supplementary Feeding
DENMARK *
197,157
Emergency Education
LIECHTENSTEIN
6,579
Emergency Response
USAID**
135,000
Health/Essential Drugs
Total
1,362,256
* US$ 64,698 balance from the 1998 contribution to emergency education
**Reprogrammed with authorisation of USAID

4. Summary of Appeal Requirements

In the UN Consolidated Appeal prepared in February 2000, UNICEF outlined priority needs for US$ 8,229,520 to be able to fulfil its responsibilities in Eritrea. These are outlined below:

Planned UNICEF activities Priority funding needs ($US)
Education
1,705,000
Water & Sanitation
3,964,520
Health & Nutrition
2,360,000
Psychosocial Support
200,000
Total
$ 8,229,520

5. Impact of Under-Funding

Implementation of several emergency activities has been slow while others have not taken off due to lack of funds. The most affected interventions include education, where a project proposal for US$ 2,895,371 prepared and submitted in June is yet to receive donor response. The other critical sector is supplementary feeding and nutritional assessment. The 1999 funding was only able to meet the requirements of the children under-five, pregnant and lactating women, up to December 1999. Presently, there is no pledge for the 2000 Appeal. The initial delivery of household items, consisting mainly of plastic cups, plates, jerry cans, etc, and items for warmth, such as blankets, is now due for replacement. The programme has not been able to do this because funds are simply not available.

Examples of activities on hold due to lack of funds include:

Project
Beneficiaries
Amount Required
Emergency Education
24,000 children
$ 2,895,371
Shelter/Household Utensils
250,000 IDPs
$ 1,042,290
Nutrition/Supplementary Feeding
40,000 people
$ 1,358,518

Details of these projects and the Eritrea Programme can be obtained:

Dr. Festo Kavishe,
UNICEF Representative
Eritrea
Tel: 291-1-151166
Fax: 291-1-151350
E-mail: fkavishe@unicef.org

Robin Medforth-Mills
UNICEF EMOPS
Geneva
Tel: + 41 22 909 5554
Fax: + 41 22 909 5902
E-mail: rmmills@unicef.org

Dan Rohrmann
UNICEF PFO
New York
Tel: + 1 212 326 7009
Fax: + 1 212 326 7165
E-mail: drohrmann@unicef.org

For more information on UNICEF, visit its web site at http://www.unicef.org