Eritrea
Eritrean Catholic Secretariat

Caritas Eritrea, known locally as the Eritrean Catholic Secretariat, works to help those suffering the effects of conflict and ongoing poverty in the country. A 32-year struggle between Eritrea and Ethiopia ended with a declaration of independence in 1993, but a 1998–2000 border conflict escalated into full-scale war, killing tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides, displacing one million farmers and severely damaging the country’s infrastructure. Tensions and sporadic unrest continue.

These conflicts were fought against a backdrop of poverty and food insecurity: two thirds of the population receive food aid, and economic progress is hampered because many Eritreans are in the army rather than the work force.

Erratic rainfall results in widespread crop failure; droughts take their toll on livestock and threaten the livelihoods of 2.5 million Eritreans; 600,000 people have little or no access to food supply lines.

Caritas Eritrea is committed to running supplementary feeding programmes for 35,000 at-risk people. It has coordinated activities among its partners and diocesan offices in Asmara, Keren and Barentu. Emergency aid projects include an appeal for US$2.5 million for drought relief in 2004: aid was distributed through church clinics and village distribution points, and five kid goats or lambs were given to 1,500 farming households, with priority to poor households headed by women. Emergency medicine was provided for sick people through 29 Church clinics and health centres; two mobile clinics operated in the region of Gash Barka.

Caritas Updates from Eritrea