Despite official denials from President Isaias that there is any food crisis and a rejection of aid, the UN has – quietly – revealed the extent of the suffering.
This is an extract from the latest UN assessment, dated February 2016. Eritrea is classified as a ‘Severe Humanitarian Crisis’.
“According to satellite-based monitoring, there are significant soil moisture deficits in most eastern coastal areas, impacting food security and livelihoods (OCHA 10/11/2015). El Niño weather patterns are contributing to drought conditions (UN 07/01/2016).
Since the government of Eritrea has not released data on food security for the year and restricts access, it is difficult to know the full impact and scope of the drought (NS 11/01/2016).
However, FAO reports that the coastal areas of Foro, Gel’alo and Massawa have had almost no rain in June and July, and that rainfall throughout the country was 30-35% below average (FAO 29/01/2016).
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki has denied any food crisis and continues to reject UN food aid (AFP 23/01/2016).
It is estimated that Eritrea produces only 60% of the food it needs, and markets appear to be dysfunctional. Due to extensive national service, farmers are routinely absent during harvest periods (Economist 10/03/2014). In addition, local food and fuel prices are likely to be high, putting severe pressure on household coping mechanisms.
According to FAO in 2013, over 60% of the Eritrean population was reported to be undernourished between 2011 and 2013.”