UNICEF Eritrea Humanitarian Situation Report No. 16, Mid-Year 2021



  • UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education to implement the safe school reopening with guidance on hand hygiene and sanitation, respiratory etiquette and social distancing.

  • UNICEF supported the Ministry of Health to plan to conduct a research on Maternal, Adolescent, Child and Neonatal Feeding and Nutrition, assessing the knowledge, attitude and practice of communities on childcare and feeding practices.

  • In April, UNICEF charter cargo flight brought 1,343,500 doses of routine immunization vaccines for the children younger than two year.

  • With support from UNICEF, the Ministry of Health declared 206 communities Open Defecation-Free, reaching over 125,200 people with sanitation and hygiene services.

  • Mobile clinic services were continuously conducted in hard-to-reach areas across Eritrea, and 12,530 vaccine shots were given to children less than 2 years of age living in areas with less access.

  • The humanitarian funding gap as of 30 June is 69 per cent net, or US$12.9 million out of US$18.7 million of the total funding requirement for 2021.

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 appealed for US$18.7 million to sustain provision of lifesaving services for children and women. Between January and June 2021, donors such as Japan, UK (DFID / FCDO) and Ireland, as well as the donors contributing to the Global Thematic Humanitarian Fund, have generously contributed to UNICEF Eritrea’s Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC). UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to all donors for the contributions. However, the HAC 2021 still has a funding gap of 69 per cent. Without adequate funding, UNICEF is unable to fully support the GoSE’s efforts to ensure that over 48,800 children would receive lifesaving treatment for acute malnutrition and over 990 vulnerable families would receive livelihood support and social protection services.

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

As of 30 June 2021, the total COVID-19 confirmed cases in country are 5,936, out of which 5,913 have recovered, tested negative and discharged. Twenty three deaths have been reported of patients who were undergoing COVID-19 treatment, making the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) in Eritrea equal to 0.39 per cent. The age range for the deaths is between 50 and 84 years.

Amid the pandemic, the routine immunization programme has maintained its sustained high vaccination coverage at national level during the reporting period. However, there are some disparities on the vaccination coverage in 2 out of the 6 regions, leaving pockets of unimmunized and partially vaccinated children. About 3 per cent of the total target children for routine vaccination live in the hard-to-reach areas in the 16 districts, and it is operationally, logistically and financially challenging to ensure that every child is vaccinated. The same applies to other essential health services, particularly for neonatal, child and maternal health. Adequate support is urgently needed to serve those disadvantaged populations for the reduction of neonatal, child and maternal morbidity and mortality.

In 2020 and first half of 2021, the nutrition situation in Eritrea worsened due to the combined effects of the economic impact of the COVID-19, prices’ increase for basic commodities, desert locust infestations and weather shocks. UNICEF continued to support efforts to reach malnourished children with lifesaving interventions and recorded encouraging gains in preventing further deterioration of acute malnutrition, which is a breakthrough given the special period of intervention.
This achievement was made possible through innovative strategies and the strong partnership between UNICEF and GoSE, in devising home-grown solutions to adapt and ensure continuity of lifesaving nutrition interventions, including the treatment of acute malnutrition and micronutrient supplementation, while maintaining the quality of interventions in the context of COVID-19.

The current achievements will lay foundation for longer-term strategic solution to promote practices and services that ensure optimal nutrition, growth, and development of children, adolescents, and women nationwide. Towards this, the Acceleration of High-Impact Nutrition Interventions (AHINI) is a key national strategy initiated under MoH and UNICEF leadership to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition.

Furthermore, UNICEF and MoH worked on sustainable food system solutions towards local production of nutritious foods. UNICEF and MoH prepared a briefing note “A case for Investment in Nutrition” in Eritrea for the Ministry of Finance and National Development (MoFND). It advocates for local production of nutritious food, including RUTF (Ready to Use Therapeutic Food) in Dekemhare, which has a potential in producing fortified food, mainly flour enriched with vital micronutrients for general population, more specifically to address malnutrition among children, adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women. This makes sense economically as well as in line with the principles of `self-reliance’, central to Eritrea’s development approach.

The note on the investment case is accompanied by additional annex detailing technical solutions and charts steps to be taken in successive years until the GoSE reaches the production stage.

Due to the COVID-related restrictions, all schools from the pre-primary to the secondary level remained closed since March 2020 Through March 2021. This led to the disruption of learning for around 600,000 learners nationwide for nearly one year. The GoSE has reopened all schools from 1 April 2021, with the required prevention measures in place.
Consequently, during the reporting period, UNICEF’s support to the Ministry of Education was geared towards supporting preparation for safe reopening of 2,154 schools with the national safe school protocols in place.