Eritrean Drought and “Famine”
There is widespread fear that there may be hidden famine in Eritrea caused by drought. The question is whether the Eritrean government is hiding information on hunger and starvation because it is embarrassed by its failed
There is widespread fear that there may be hidden famine in Eritrea caused by drought.
The question is whether the Eritrean government is hiding information on hunger and starvation because it is embarrassed by its failed agricultural policies?
Eritrean intellectuals, professionals and political leaders who met in Addis Ababa earlier this month (Sept. 5 to Sept.10/2011) agreed that saving the lives of drought victims was more important than engagement in hunger politics on the part of the Eritrean government.
In a petition to world leaders, they call for an immediate access to drought affected areas and allow independent verification of the magnitude of the food crisis.
Petitions have been sent to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon; AU current Chair Equatorial Guinea President Mbasogo; AU Chief Commissioner Jean Ping; EU Commission/Foreign Affairs Chief,Catherine Ashton; US President Barak Obama and the Heads of Government of the other four UN Security Council Members, IGAD Executive Secretary Eng. Mahboub M. Maalim; His Highness Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa; US State Dept. Secretary Hillary Clinton; US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice; and US Chief Envoy for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.
The following is the full text of the petition:
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONCERN ABOUT THE PLIGHT OF THE ERITREAN PEOPLE SUFFERING UNDER AFRICA’S MOST SECRETIVE AND REPRESSIVE REGIME.
After relentless international pressures, Eritrea has reluctantly admitted there is drought in the country while at the same time denying there is famine. It continues to ignore calls from UNICEF and other NGOs to independently assess the impact of the drought on Eritreans.
The UN says impoverished Eritrea is one of the four Horn of African countries affected by the region’s worst drought in sixty years making over 12 million people dependent on emergency food aid. Satellite images confirm crop failures in many parts of Eritrea.
International reports suggest there is hidden famine in Eritrea as more refugees continue to stream in increasing numbers across militarized border areas into Ethiopia in search of food. The refugees speak of acute shortages forcing many to leave their homes defying shoot-to-kill orders on those victims trying to enter Ethiopia or the Sudan.
We urge you to put pressure on the Eritrean government to immediately allow humanitarian access to drought affected areas in the country to independently verify whether there is famine or not.
Signed: Exiled Eritrean professionals, intellectuals and political leaders meeting in Addis Ababa, Sept. 5 to Sept 10, 2011