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Long-Term Solution To Chronic Food Shortages

Eritrea: UN Relief Official Calls For Long-Term Solution To Chronic Food Shortages

New York, Oct 18 2006 11:00AM

A senior United Nations relief official wrapped up a five-day visit to Eritrea today, stressing the need for stronger links between humanitarian assistance and long-term measures to address the underlying causes of food shortages in the poor East African country.

Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Kjell Magne Bondevik, met with President Isayas Afwerki and other senior government officials as well as with non-governmental organizations (NGOs,) the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the donor community.

He also made a field trip to Debub region in southern Eritrea to see first hand some of the government’s food security initiatives and reached agreement to conduct a joint workshop on the operational aspects of the Government’s strategy, including the cash for work policy.

With two consecutive good rainy seasons in the highlands, Eritrea expects food supplies to improve soon, but at present malnutrition rates remain high in some regions due to the extended impact of four consecutive years of drought.

Mr. Bondevik also underlined the importance of overall regional developments on the humanitarian situation, and expressed concern over the possible humanitarian consequences should Eritrea’s violation of the Temporary Security Zone between it and Ethiopia lead to an escalation of tension.

Both Mr. Annan and the Security Council have called on Eritrea to withdraw some 1,500 troops and 15 tanks that it recently moved into the zone in “a major breach” of the ceasefire that ended the two-year border war between the two countries from 1998-2000.

Mr. Annan appointed Mr. Bondevik, a former Norwegian Prime Minister, as special envoy for the region in February as part of the response to the recurrent drought and chronic food insecurity devastating the Horn of Africa, which also include Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia and parts of Kenya.

ends

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