News / Africa

Eritrea Unaffected by Drought, Famine, Says Asmara Official

Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki
Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki

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  • Clottey interview with Yemane Ghebreab, political advisor to Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki

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Peter Clottey

A political advisor to Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki says Asmara has implemented measures to ensure that citizens are unharmed by the effects of drought and famine in the Horn of Africa region.

Yemane Ghebreab denied reports that a food crisis is forcing Eritreans to flee to neighboring countries.

“There [are] no food shortages in Eritrea at the present time. Last year, we had a bumper harvest.  We have also built up our reserves in terms of food stocks by importing food, so we will be ready for any emergency,” said Ghebreab.

His comments came after U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson was quoted as sayingEritrea is a closed and increasingly reclusive country, and its government has not been particularly helpful in sharing data and information about the severity of the food shortages or the drought in its country.”

Carson also encouraged Eritrea to be open about the needs of its population.

“Because it is a part of the greater Horn of Africa, we assume that conditions in Eritrea are probably quite similar to the drought conditions that we are seeing in other places – in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia. Because we don’t know what’s happening, our understanding of the situation is limited, but we encourage them to be more open about their needs and the needs of their population.”

But, Ghebreab said Asmara does not seek international charity, but rather partnerships that would benefit Eritreans.

“What Eritrea seeks is not a food handout. This has been our policy for many years. What we want is trade and investment,” said Ghebreab.

He insisted Eritrea is not experiencing a severe drought, but conceded that Asmara might coordinate with aid groups if drought or famine management “goes beyond our means.”

“So far, the situation is normal, and we believe we can manage with our own resources,” said Ghebreab.

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