UNICEF Eritrea Humanitarian Situation Report, End-of-Year 2021



• During 2021, the Government of the State of Eritrea (GoSE), in partnership with UNICEF, extended lifesaving health and nutrition interventions including the treatment of pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, acute malnutrition, as well as micronutrient supplementation while maintaining the quality of interventions in the context of COVID-19.

• The Ministry of Health treated more than 45,603 children aged under five for acute malnutrition, 125,926 children with diarrhoea: 272,190 for pneumonia and 21,964 children for malaria.

• 474 communities were declared Open Defecation-Free, reaching over 294,098 people with appropriate sanitation and hygiene services.

• In partnership with the Ministry of Education, 2,410 schools reopened after 12 months of closure and put in place COVID-19 prevention measures, enabling the re-enrolment of 670,897 children (309,279 girls).

• The Horn of Africa is facing a third severe La Niña-induced drought situation, with anticipated further worsening cases of acute malnutrition, vulnerability among the low-income families.

Situation in Numbers

N/A children in need of humanitarian assistance

N/A people in need

723,000 children to be reached

1,000,000 people to be reached

Funding Overview and Partnerships

In 2021, UNICEF Eritrea’s Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal requested US$18.7 million and witnessed 69 per cent funding gap UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to all donors for their contributions, in particular the Governments of the UK (DFID / FCDO), Ireland, and Japan, as well as the donors contributing to the Global Thematic Humanitarian Fund, generously contributed to UNICEF Eritrea’s HAC 2021 funding needs. Without adequate funding,
UNICEF has been unable to fully support the Government of the State of Eritrea’s (GoSE) efforts to ensure that, over 65,000 children receive lifesaving health and nutrition interventions and over 990 vulnerable families have access to quality water, sanitation and hygiene services and receive livelihood support and social protection services.

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

During the year, the total COVID-19 confirmed cases in the country rose from 1,320 as of 1st January 2021 to 8,011 as of 31 December 2021. For the same period, reported deaths of patients who were undergoing COVID-19 treatment, rose from three to 76, making the Case Fatality Rate in Eritrea equal to 0.98 per cent. The GoSE remains fully committedto COVID-19 vaccination and the UN is in engagement with the government to commit to vaccine equity and universal coverage of the eligible population.

Throughout the year, the nutrition situation remained of concern. A total of 238,559 children under the age of five years were screened at the community level for malnutrition, using mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurement, with 45,603 of the children found acutely malnourished and admitted to the treatment program, indicating high proxy Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) of 19.1%, a basic indication of the severity of malnutrition in the country. With the Horn of Africa facing a third severe La Niña-induced drought situation, Eritrea could encounter very high cases of acute malnutrition, drying up of water sources, impacting on livelihoods and household food security including exacerbating gender inequalities within the home and at the community level and increased violence against girls and women. At the time of finalizing this report, Eritrea was revisiting the 2022 HAC appeal, within the context of drought response.

All schools from the pre-primary to the secondary level remained closed from March 2020 through March 2021, with around 600,000 learners severely affected. A Government-led rapid assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector showed 27.7 per cent of the school children reported experiencing psychological, economic, and social problems and 90.8 per cent of surveyed parents were worried about the emotional well-being of their children during the school closure. Engaging the communities, families and young people needed to be further strengthened in addressing hesitation and misinformation.