The Afar people in southern Eritrea have consistently faced the brunt of the national government’s plans and policies during the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic- in a recent report by Human Rights Concern Eritrea (HRCE), it is revealed that already prior to the outbreak of the unforeseen pandemic, the predominantly-Afar regions of Eritrea survives on fishing and is void of any medical facilities.
Rather than taking into deep consideration the susceptibility of the Afar people to disease and famine, the Eritrean government has “totally closed all the land and sea borders of the region, without taking any measures to ensure that food supplies could reach them.” Seemingly, without any concern in regards to the Afar people, the government has temporarily eliminated the fishing region’s primary livelihood and simultaneously blocking off any access to essential food supplies. However, the risks and consequences are not temporary:
Initially, from April to May, the Afar people have consistently confirmed to the Eritrean government just how dangerous the implications of the total land and sea route closures are on the survival of the Afar people. These warnings directly followed the Eritrean governments halting of camel convoys transporting high-demand food supplies into the desperate region. Human Rights Concern Eritrea states:
“it is difficult to see how this suffocating siege of the Afar people’s homeland, under the pretext of ending all movement of people to stop infection, can be interpreted other than as a deliberate attempt to cut off all food supplies and cruelly subject the people to hunger and starvation.”
HRCE finalizes their statement by urging the Eritrean government to stop restricting food routes to the Afar community regions and to allow the people to continue fishing in order to prevent the total starvation of the Afar people.