|A girl pours water from a small plastic pitcher into a jerrycan in a camp in Eritrea|
NEW YORK, 21 July 2004 – Hundreds of thousands of children in Eritrea are living in extreme poverty because of drought and conflict with Ethiopia. A UNICEF report says 425,000 children under 14 are affected with many children under five suffering acute malnutrition.
Half of all families are dependent on women who are themselves experiencing malnutrition because of food shortages. Child mortality rates are rising and in areas of extreme water shortages deaths from diarrhoea are on the increase.
UNICEF says there is evidence of more children living on the streets in urban areas where there are similar food shortages. In two months, the Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission had only been able to provide flour to 100,000 people.
UNICEF is supporting 30,000 malnourished children with supplementary food and providing 30 therapeutic feeding centres with supplies and equipment. 35,000 people are receiving water by truck but much more is wanted.
An additional 3.8 million US dollars is needed to fund health, nutrition, water and sanitation projects and to support children displaced by the crisis for the rest of the year.
Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a two-and-a-half-year war from 1998 that claimed tens of thousands of lives. The border is now patrolled by UN peacekeepers and both countries have been warned to end the stalemate to avoid devastating consequences for their people.