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Rains Fail For Fifth Year In Eritrea

Rains Fail For Fifth Year In Eritrea, Increasing Food Insecurity, UN Says

Rains have failed for the fifth consecutive year in Eritrea, causing crop failure, drying out major pasturelands and increasing food insecurity, as the Horn of Africa country's most fertile land remains under landmines from its border war with Ethiopia, the United Nations emergency humanitarian aid office says.

The extended drought has caused "failed harvests, loss of livestock and food insecurity throughout all parts of the country, both rural and urban," and two-thirds of the 3.6 million populations will need food aid this year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says in a new report.

Eritrea's three most fertile regions – Anseba, Gash Barka and Debub – are at their driest since 1998 and acute malnutrition is affecting 15 per cent of children under 5 in four out of six administrative regions, as well as 30 to 60 per cent of adult females.

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought their war from 1998 to 2000.

With an estimated 300,000 Eritreans still serving in the military because of a stalemate with Ethiopia over the peace process, the army has been helping with crop harvesting and threshing, but other critical agricultural work has been neglected, OCHA says.

Meanwhile, the country's most fertile land lies within the 25-kilometre-wide demilitarized Temporary Security Zone, which is patrolled by some 3,300 UN peacekeepers, but in which landmines are impeding the free movement of about 655,000 people, it says.

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