Eritrea opens ports

Nairobi - Eritrea has pledged to facilitate efforts to help famine victims in Ethiopia by offering its ports for expeditious humanitarian assistance delivery, the foreign ministry announced in a statement.

The government said on Thursday that it was aware of its "obligations ... (in) a crisis of huge proportions and because it has no desire to penalise destitute populations in Ethiopia for the wrongs done by their government".

Relations between the two Horn of Africa nations have remained tense since the end in May 2000 of a bloody border war. Seven years earlier, Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia, which lost its Red Sea ports in the process.

The statement from Asmara pointed out that acute crop shortfalls this year because of severe drought and the threat of famine stalking the whole region were well known.

"Indeed millions of people in Ethiopia and Eritrea will face starvation unless they are assisted timely and in adequate quantities," the Asmara government said.

The United States on Thursday announced emergency aid worth $87m to help Ethiopia through the drought.

The US food aid has begun arriving at the port in neighbouring Djibouti, which has become Ethiopia's main transit point for goods coming in by sea.

Ethiopia on Monday launched a further appeal for food aid for six million people facing starvation in the immediate future, with a possible 15 million at risk in the longer term.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) also appealed to donors on Tuesday to urgently help tackle the food crisis, saying $160m in aid were needed very fast.

Ethiopian Prime Meles Zenawi warned that looming famine could be worse than the terrible drought of 1984-85, which wiped out the country's grain stocks and killed more people than have ever been counted, but believed to number hundreds of thousands.

By mid-November this year, the WFP had received food aid contributions of more than 300 000 tons, worth around $130m, which is enough to feed three million people for a month.

The Swedish government aid agency SIDA also said Wednesday it had earmarked 30 million kronor ($3.33m) to help fight famine in Ethiopia. - Sapa-AFP

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 1415 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 7823 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 1616 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.