Let me talk about the underlying theme that is palpable in the articles posted today: the sense of urgency needed to tackle the impeding catastrophe in Eritrea. In most of them, it is the issue of the looming, full-blown famine that preoccupies them most; and, if I may say so, deservedly so. This famine is unlike anything we have seen before in our lives. First, the coping mechanism of the people has been exhausted to a breaking point through years of deprivation, mostly through misguided governmental policies. Second, after the expulsion of the NGOs from Eritrea, especially that of US Aid, the food aid that used to cover the food deficit of the nation is no more available.And, third, the traditional form of coping mechanism through migration (“sidet”) to richer areas is very limited because of the draconian movement constraint within and outside the country imposed by the Isaias regime. All of this means that the starving masses, after depleting their meager food supply, have nowhere to go but to simply die in their homes. Given all this, the writers’ message is stark and clear: we either act now or we are doomed!
Now, I would like to point at a particular article – “ Eritrea, a Country in overall Crisis” by Mussie Hadgu – not only because it is an excellent one, but also because it is an eyewitness’ account from Eritrea. In the first installment of this series, Mussie gives us a lucid account of the PFDJ’s dysfunctional relation with NGOs; in the next posting, we will see how massive land expropriation by the government has left peasants and pastoralists across Eritrea destitute – two factors that are very relevant to understanding the making of the current famine.
Three of the writers also pointedly deal with a subject matter that has recently caused much controversy: the European Union’s planned financial aid to Eritrea, to the tune of 122 million Euros. Although all of them unanimously believe that Eritrea needs urgent help to stave off a looming famine, none of them believe that it should come in cash form. Anyone who knows the nature of the PFDJ regime knows that handing it cash is a recipe for disaster: while the hungry masses will never benefit from it, the regime will use it for all kinds of mischief in the region. As concerned Eritreans, it is our obligation that we stand firm with our people by saying, “We are all for food aid to be handed over directly to the needy masses! But we are adamantly opposed to any cash aid to the brutal regime!” As such, I urge our readers to sign the petition.
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