Eritrea — January 2010

Sociopolitical Situation

Eritrea is currently facing a severe draught through most of the country resulting in failed crops and harvests. The situation has worsened beyond estimated levels; in some part of the country populations are internally displaced in search of food. The government has acknowledged the current crop failure and food crisis and nationwide food sufficiency has been its top priority for a decade now. Church authorities have called attention to the humanitarian emergency since June of last year and some, relatively small, donor response was made during the second half of last year.

Eritrea’s isolation in its region has reached its highest level. The year 2009 ended with an unexpected, hasty UN sanctions on Eritrea that includes an arms embargo, leadership travel ban, and asset freeze. The government considers the sanctions as illegal; the sanctions’ adverse and diverse implications on the lives of the people and in the context of draught are yet to be known. The society at large and the civil and religious leadership are in a state of disbelief that the UN, in response to the African Union (AU), acted swiftly to punish such a small country struggling with a no war/no peace situation and draught. The minimum damage the sanctions can do to Eritrea is to tarnish the image of the country and scare off any possible foreign investment. It has already begun to affect adversely Eritrea’s promising mining industry. The UN, AU and US expressed their intent to use the sanctions to correct Eritrea’s leadership’s meddling in the regional politics of the Horn of Africa, specifically of Somalia.

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