Despite government denials there is growing concern that Eritrea’s people face a severe crisis. This would be far plainer (as it is in Ethiopia) if it was not for the clampdown on the activities of humanitarian organisations.
Below is the evidence classifying Eritrea as a ‘severe humanitarian crisis’ from a new website: ACAPS
The result is clear: One million ‘food insecure’ and 15,000 children ‘expected to require treatment for severe acute malnutrition in 2016.’
The Eritrean state severely restricts the access of humanitarian actors inside the country. Very little is known about the humanitarian needs inside the country, however UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million people are in need. UN operations have been restricted to health, water supply and sanitation. An average of 5,000 Eritreans per month are thought to flee the country.
One million people in Eritrea are thought to be food insecure (OCHA 31/01/2016). 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 had almost no rain in June and July 2015, 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 mandatory 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. 15,000 children are expected to require treatment for severe acute malnutrition in 2016.