Emergency wheat arrives in hungry Eritrea
06 Dec 2004
(Reuters) - A shipment of wheat donated by the European Union, Ireland, the United
States and Japan bound for almost 1 million drought-hit Eritreans arrived in
the Horn of Africa country on Monday, aid workers said.
The U.N. World Food
Programme (WFP) offloaded the 42,500 metric ton load valued at US$13.8 million
at the Red Sea port of Massawa, from where it will be trucked to worst-hit
areas where two-thirds of the population do not get enough food each day.
The wheat will provide
food for three months for 600,000 suffering drought and an additional 300,000
at risk from the after-effects of a 1998-2000 war with neighbouring Ethiopia in
the country of 4 million.
"Eritrea has been
ravaged by four consecutive years of drought and currently faces nearly
complete crop failure in many areas of what should be the country's grain
belt," said WFP country director Jean-Pierre Cebron.
Poor rains in 2004 in
the worst-hit regions of Gash Barka, Debub and Anseba and a dramatic
countrywide rise in the price of basic foods has left acute malnutrition rates
as high as 19 percent in some areas. Rates of 15 percent are considered
emergencies by WFP.
The European Union gave
38,000 tons of wheat; Ireland, 2,000 tons; the United States., 1,500 tons; and
Japan 1,000 tons.
"This will provide essential food support
for those most in need, particularly mothers and young children," Cebron