Eritrea — January 2008

Sociopolitical situation

Eritrea’s conflict with Ethiopia over their shared border was finally resolved in November. The Boundary Commission delivered its report, which followed its verdict of 2002, pronounced it as final and binding, closed the case and dissolved the panel. Several nationals inside and outside the country (and organized by the government) conducted a series of meetings, which offered hopes for a lasting peace and socioeconomic recovery.

The massive effort given to food security has paid off; last year’s harvest has been the highest since the country’s independence. Normalizing relations with the Sudan has improved the supply of some consumables entering the country. Nevertheless, the government rationing of basics to the population continues while private business initiatives continue to decline. Nationwide, most youths, who would make up the workforce, are serving in the military and have yet to be demobilized and reintegrated into society.

Religious situation

By December, the Catholic Church in Eritrea completed the task of establishing the MAADI Association, which will be concerned exclusively with providing social assistance, especially through the church’s health care and educational institutions. Three bishops and 12 religious institutions signed the statutes of the association as its founding members.

CNEWA’s role in coordinating ROACO-member support for these church institutions, either directly or through the MAADI Association, has taken shape. Currently, Church in Need, Miserereor, Porticus and CNEWA are funding several health care and educational initiatives of the local church.

Those religious communities recognized by the government — the Eritrean Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches and Islam — continue to coexist in harmony. Recently these confessional communities had to take inventory of some community assets and respond to the government’s request for information regarding property. The issue of clergy members in formation (under the age of 40) who are requested by the government for national service has not yet been settled.

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