Source: The Guardian
As members of the Eritrean community, we were deeply moved by the appeal for assistance in the Horn of Africa, launched by British aid organisations (Charities redouble efforts to avert east Africa famine, 15 March). But we cannot understand why Eritrea is not included in the appeal. Unicef has confirmed what we know from our friends and families inside the country.
In a report in January, the agency said that the El Niño drought has hit half of all Eritrea’s regions. Acute malnutrition is widespread. As Unicef put it: “Malnutrition rates already exceeded emergency levels, with 22,700 children under five projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2017 … Half of all children in Eritrea are stunted, and as a result, these children are even more vulnerable to malnutrition and disease outbreaks.”
This situation – confirmed by information smuggled out of Eritrea – has been denied by President Isaias Afwerki, who said in January last year that “the country will not face any crisis in spite of reduced agricultural output”. It would be unforgivable if the international community turned its back on the Eritrean people. While working in the country might be difficult, this should not be allowed to stand in the way of delivering aid to those who are in such dire need.
Selam Kidane Director, Release Eritrea UK, Noel Joseph Executive director, Eritreans for Human and Democratic Rights UK, Redi Aybu EHDR UK
This letter was published in the Daily Telegraph