We, the undersigned, are concerned members of the Eritrean diaspora. Since the start of the pandemic, our loved ones back home face a man-made, hidden famine brought on by the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Food prices have skyrocketed following bans on trade, the supplies that do exist are woefully insufficient, and water shortages threaten the health of the people. Those in rural areas cannot travel to receive money sent from family abroad, causing them to suffer in silence – their slow starvation hidden from view of the international community. In a country that relies so heavily on money sent back from family in the diaspora, this blockade can be life-threatening.
To help the government combat both the disease and the economic fallout from COVID-related closures, the Eritrean diaspora in the United States has raised a large amount of funds to aid in the Eritrean government’s public health and economic relief response; according to pro-government sources these funds reached at least $2.7 million in the U.S. alone. However, reports leaving the country at this time suggest that our loved ones back home are only suffering more, not less than they were a few months ago.
To prevent the impending man-made famine resulting from the government’s COVID-19 restrictions, we are asking that the following measures be taken:
- Ensure food is affordable and accessible for all Eritrean People through:
- Repairs to broken supply chains that bring food from Gash Barka (sorghum, mashalla grain, fruits, onions, tomatoes) and neighboring Ethiopia (teff, bebere, and coffee) and Sudan (cooking oil, sugar and soap) to regions that have shortages
- The enhancement of programs, such as subsidising staple foods to offset inflation and distributing rations. This is needed to ensure food access in areas which were already experiencing shortages before the crisis and now face increased demands, including but not limited to the Afar region
- In the Afar region, removing fishing restrictions that have blocked the people from their main source of food, which they have relied on for centuries
- Increase clean water accessibility to all regions of the country, both for drinking water and public health necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Since the Eritrean population in Eritrea heavily relies on financial support from families abroad we are demanding the government lift the ban on inter-village travel so that people can access monies in Asmara sent by relatives abroad
The funds raised by the diaspora were meant to prevent all of these aforementioned crises, and yet the health, food and economic situation in Eritrea has only deteriorated. For this reason, diaspora members are now raising new funds in their communities and assigning contacts inside Eritrea to disburse relief to poor communities in need.
It is for this reason that we, as concerned Eritrean citizens living in the diaspora, are demanding that the Eritrean govt loosens its restrictions to prevent Eritreans from imminent starvation.
To read the full story about how the COVID-19 response has increased the suffering of our people, click here: https://tinyurl.com/EritreanHiddenFamine.
The situation on the ground in Eritrea remains dynamic and is changing rapidly. The information contained in this article is confirmed as of the time it was written. It is our hope that the situation will improve and the details will change for the better in the coming weeks.