Eritrea: Coronavirus

Department for International Development written question – answered on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Chair, International Relations and Defence Committee, Chair, International Relations and Defence Committee

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the risk of starvation to the people of the Afar region of Eritrea due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) whether that risk has been exacerbated by the actions of the government of Eritrea.

Photo of Baroness Sugg Baroness Sugg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We are concerned that the population of Eritrea, including the Red Sea Afar people, are facing food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 and the desert locust outbreak are compounding existing humanitarian need caused by residual effects of war and climate change. Humanitarian and development programmes in Eritrea are being adapted to address current food security challenges. DFID funds life-saving activity in Eritrea, including providing £4 million to UNICEF in 2019-20 to help treat malnutrition in under-fives and provide access to safe hygiene and sanitation services. This programme continues to deliver basic nutrition supplies in the Afar region during the pandemic.

Like most countries affected by COVID-19, the authorities have imposed an internal travel ban and lockdown across Eritrea. We will continue to urge for these measures to be necessary, proportionate, time-bound, transparent and regularly reviewed. We raise our concerns about human rights in Eritrea with the Government at every opportunity, and we will continue to monitor the situation and risks in country.

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