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close this bookThe Courier N 140 - July - Aug 1993 - Dossier: National Minorities - Country Reports: Dominica, Mozambique (EC Courier, 1993, 96 p.)
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General information

Independence for Eritrea

The people of Eritrea voted almost unanimously in favour of independence on 23-25 April 1993 and, on 24 May, the nag of independent Eritrea was raised at a moving ceremony before a proud and enthusiastic populace. After 30 years of war' the 52nd state of Africa was born.

Three heads of state-General Ahmed Al-Beshir of Sudan, Hassan Gouled Aptidon of Djibouti and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia-were there, in addition to a large contingent of representatives from the Community Member States and other countries. The Ethiopian head of state's speech on the future of cooperation between his country and Eritrea was very warmly welcomed and the crowds were moved by his account of the painful experience of war and the need for Ethiopia and Eritrea to join together to build a future of peace and progress. The Presidents of Sudan and Djibouti stressed their relations with the new state and their keenness for cooperation with it, including at regional level.

Eritrean President Issaias Afwerki responded with interesting details of the tasks which lay ahead and emphasised the promising prospects for reconstruction, democratisation (a four-year period of transition) and, of course, the future cooperation with Ethiopia.

Giovanni Livi, the EC Commission's Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, presented the Commission's good wishes to the new president and his team.

On the international front, both the OAU and the UN said that Eritrea would be admitted to their organisations as speedily as possible. The new country appears to want to establish good relations with its neighbours, without depending on certain Arab countries. The goodwill was mutual as far as joining the Lome Convention was concerned and Eritrea had already applied to accede to the ACP's Georgetown Agreement.

Emergency aid

Rwanda: ECU 3m as emergency aid towards programmes of assistance operated by humanitarian organisations for the victims of armed conflict.

Sudan: Aid for displaced persons in southern Sudan.

The EC Commission has decided to allocate ECU 300000-worth of emergency aid to refugees in southern Sudan, to be targeted at some 35 000 displaced persons in Ashwa, in the Eastern Equator province.

The people involved, who came from Kongor, Bor and Bahr el Ghazal, fled from the Khartoum Government's offensive against the Sudan People's Liberation Army, which began in the spring of last year. Many of them had only returned from Ethiopian camps in 1991. They are suffering from severe malnutrition and their camps lack sanitary facilities and basic medical provision.

ECHO, the European Community Humanitarian Office, is to have the French NGO Action Internationale Contre la Faim (AICF) as its operational partner in this scheme. The Community aid consists of 60 000 t of skimmed milk powder and 60 000 t of oil (Unimix and sugar to be supplied by UNICEF), as well as medicines, medical equipment and sanitary facilities. A medical-nutritional programme for children is to be provided in addition. It involves running a nutritional survey and setting up four feeding centres which can supply food of a medical-nutritional nature, if necessary.

Violent fighting between the different ethnic groups has prevented food and humanitarian aid from international sources from reaching its destination in Sudan for the last four months. The emergency aid had, in fact, been planned for 1992, but the AICF had to ask for delivery to be postponed because of security problems in the area.

In 1992-93, the Commission sent some 240 000 t of food aid to Sudan as well as ECU 6m to pay for the aid to be transported into the interior of the country. A further ECU 4m was provided in non-food emergency aid over the same period of which ECU 2.2m-worth went to the southern part of the country, where delivery has proved to be extremely difficult.

There are currently seven other Community emergency medical assistance operations under way in southern Sudan (involving, in particular, Medecins sans Frontieres, Save the Children, the AICF and the CCM). Between them, these are worth a total of ECU 1 335 000.


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