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Category: Eritrea General

Eritrea’s wildlife: Some of the disappeared animals are coming back

Written by Luwam Berhane

In the past, Eritrea was home to a large range of animals, including buffaloes, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, hippos, Nubian ibexes, leopards, lions and waterbucks. But then due to different things: such as deforestation, wars, poor farming methods their numbers have drastically declined. With the loss of the forests and decades of colonization and war, many of these animals have completely disappeared. It is amazing how it was less than a hundred years ago that Eritrea was home thousands of species.

Eritrean man with Lion near Barentu

Eritrean man with Lion near Barentu

Lions and greater kudus and Torah arte-beasts are still found in the mountains of Gash-Barka Region. Rarely could they be seen even in other places. Besides, Eritrea’s large population of elephants roams in this region. A dik-diks and dorcas gazelles as well the endangered African Wild Ass can be seen in Denakalia Region. Others include bushbucks, duikers, greater kudus, klipspringers, leopards, oryxs and crocodiles.

Returned Eritrean Elephants and Buffaloes

Returned Eritrean Elephants and Buffaloes

Another amazing thing is that there have been recorded more than 560 species of birds. This high number of bird diversity within Eritrea is largely due to its location. Eritrea lies between a popular bird migratory path that links the middle-east and the African continent. The highest concentration of bird populations within Eritrea are usually to be found in the Semenawi Bahri national park, Asmara plateau, Dahlak Islands and the coast.

Eritrean bird life

Eritrean bird life

More known birds, such as the ostrich, (known as Segen in our language), are to be found in eastern parts of Eritrea (Danakila). They can easily be seen on journeys south of Massawa. This is the northern ostrich race, and mature breeding males will have extraordinary blue legs.

Eritrean Ostrich (Segen)

Eritrean Ostrich (Segen)

The vultures are found throughout all of Eritrea, while raptors are found on the Dahlak Islands and the Eritrean plateau. Eagles are found throughout most of Eritrea, with greatest numbers of them residing in the Semenawi Bahri national park.

Perhaps the most thrilling sighting on the desert coastal plain is of the rare wild ass. This is a relative of the zebra’s and is easily mistaken for a donkey. Numbers are diminishing, partly because they interbreed with local domestic donkeys. They are found in the Dankalia area but they are rarely seen, and then only in small, cautious groups. The animal’s main features are long ears and a grayish color. It has a white belly, a dark band on the shoulders and usually dark transverse stripes on the lower legs.

African Wild Ass

African Wild Ass

It must not be forgotten, however, that, although many visitors only see the land inhabitants, the majority of animals in this area are in the sea. More striking, though, are creatures such as the whale, dolphin, dugong and turtle.

There are five turtle species in the Eritrean waters but only two have been seen regularly in recent times. Most often sighted are the green turtle and the hawksbill. The green has a heavier, thicker shell and the hawksbill a thinner shell with a more fluted edge.
Eretomochelys imbricatus

As I said earlier as devastating as it is due to various reasons these species have quite disappeared. But after the independence the government has been working on making things better, since 1991 government policies were implemented at the start of Eritrea’s independence. The government enforced regulations that have significantly helped in steadily increasing the numbers of the different species throughout Eritrea and some of these animals are showing a coming back.

Eritrean Antelopes and Warthog

Eritrean Antelopes and Warthog

However I believe there has been little research on Eritrea wildlife and lots of area in Eritrea is still undiscovered.

What I would like to see and I’m sure many would as well would be the legendary dugong, or sea cow. This massive sea mammal feeds on sea grass, which it grazes, much as a cow does. Legend has it that all the mermaid stories originated from the idea of this mammal.

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Statement by Permanent Mission of Eritrea to the UN On Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Groups Report

New York, 12 July 2013
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Araya Desta Permanent Representative of Eritrea to the United Nations during an informal consultation with the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea.

Please Click on The Attached PDF-File To Read The Statement:

PDF-File: Statement by Permanent Mission of Eritrea to the UN On Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Groups Report

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Eritrea: Through Their blood we got life

Written by Shabait Administrator:

The Eritrean struggle for independence was one of the longest and toughest wars on the globe. The Eritrean liberation fighters had not only to fight against the immediate colonizer but also against its supporters and allies. The Ethiopian regime did any thing in its disposal to convince some super powers that the Eritrean people’s struggle was a struggle of separatist and sometimes they claimed that it was inspired by the Arabs for their interest. These and other allegations against the just struggle of the Eritrean people assisted the Ethiopian regimes to get supporters and sympathizers.
Eritrea Heroes
With all odds that was encountered by the Eritrean people has never deterred even for a minuet the commitment of the people and to the contrary hardened their will power to carry on the struggle until independence. It was, however, with heavy human and material losses.

The Ethiopian army that was considered the strongest army in Sub-Sahara with logistical and intelligence support of many has never created the upper hand of the enemy. The crimes and indiscriminate killing of innocents by the day hardened the fighting spirit of the people. One death was revenged by many fold of the enemy personnel and material.

Every liberation fighter was willing and ready to pay his/her life before his/her comrades. This imaginable readiness to pay life is a gesture of moral highness and courage. One could proudly claim that such willingness to sacrifice for one’s country and people is rarely found any where else. That is why every living Eritrean has a profound respect on our martyrs.
Patriots Cemetary in Decamhare, Eritrea
Though, our martyrs are living memory of every Eritrean every day, June 20 is indeed a special day. June 20 is dedicated to our martyrs to honor and remember their heroic deeds to free our country from the yokes of colonialism. The ultimate sacrifice one could pay is giving life for a cause. Our martyrs paid their dear life for us so that we live in peace. It is the day that no Eritrean would afford to put away from his heart. It is the day were we remind our selves that we have paid more than we can afford to be free and suffered beyond limits to end suffering. June 20 is the day where we remember the heroes who spared their life- the most precious asset they own as humans, to end the plight of the Eritrean people.

The candle light that we lit every year on June 20 is to symbolize that our martyrs paid their life to give us light. A candle gives light while burning itself; likewise our martyrs burned themselves to give us light. What an enormous gift! June 20 is also a day in which we renew our commitment to live up to their expectations. To build developed and prosperous Eritrea in which its people live in peace and harmony. To fulfill their ideals, vision and preserve their values. Moreover, we have the obligation to transfer their history, courage, dedication to the coming generation.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND ERITREA’S REALITY – Context is Everything

E-SMART

Global Eritrean Movement Against Unjust Sanctions

The Special Rapporteur Report on the situation of human rights in Eritrea was expected to be the result of a thorough, accurate and impartial investigation in line with the mandate from the Council. However, it falls far short of that goal. The report affirms that the SR depended wholesale on tons of misinformation and disinformation manufactured and circulated over the last decade and half by the sworn historical enemies of the Eritrean people—the same forces now shedding crocodile tears about human rights in this young, struggling African nation. It clearly tries to advance a political agenda designed by those who used all their resources to deny the Eritrean people their basic rights for nearly six decades. This is just another ploy—war by other means—aimed at Eritrea’s sovereignty to reverse the rights for which the Eritrean people have paid so much in blood and treasure. We therefore urge members of the UN Human Rights Council to reject this politically motivated report which falls far short of the goals set for it. The Council has an obligation to ensure a thorough, accurate and impartial process of investigation by its Rapporteurs into the conditions of human rights in any country to protect the integrity of its mission. It shouldn’t allow the process or the outcome to be politicized. Unfortunately, the work of the Special Rapporteur in this case was neither thorough nor accurate or impartial.

Please Read here the 57 pages long clarification and refutation: ERITREA-HR: HUMAN RIGHTS AND ERITREA’S REALITY – Context is Everything

Eritrea and the Millennium Development Goals: Setting the Record Straight

Written By Simon Tesfamariam

I write the following to provide some awareness in regards to Eritrea’s overall development and progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Let us begin by first considering the remarks from a 2005 UN MGD Report on Eritrea:

“It is encouraging to note that Eritrea is projected to achieve eight of the ten targets by2015. We realize, of course, that this is no cause for celebration for three reasons. First,Eritrea is off-track in two crucial areas: (1) reduction of poverty, and (2) achievement of universal primary education. Second, the general consensus is that the MDGs, even if they were to be fully achieved, represent only the minimum benchmarks rather than the culmination of full development itself. Third, the road map to 2015 is based on crucial assumptions, including the resolution of the no-peace no-war status of the border conflict, the absence of drought, the robust performance of the economy, and the successful mobilization of resources, both domestic and international, necessary for thea chievement of the MDG targets.”[link]

Despite the UN’s many concerns, Eritrea has come a long way. As Overseas Development Institute explains:

“Eritrea is one of the few countries expected to achieve the MDGs in health, in child health in particular. Infant and child mortality rates have reduced dramatically;immunization coverage has rocketed; malaria mortality and morbidity have plummeted; and HIV prevalence has almost halved in a very short period…This can be attributed to the high prioritization of health and education and a strong commitment to development among Eritreans, as well as to innovative multi- sectorial approaches to health…Out of necessity, Eritreans’ experience in adapting to adverse circumstances has given them the capacity to develop innovative multi-sectorial approaches to health. In addition,community involvement has enabled improved health-seeking behaviors as well as widespread buy-in.”[link]

Eritrea is now on course to meet 6 out of the 8 MDGs. The country’s progress for each of the MDGs is as follows:

  • 1. MDG1: not achieved
    2. MDG2: [link]
    3. MGD3: [link]
    4. MDG4: [link]
    5. MDG5: [link],
    6. MDG6: [link, link]
    7. MDG7: [link]
    8. MDG8: not enough data to assess progress

It is not only on track to meet the goals but has also gone above and beyond to raise the standard of living of the Eritrean people. Keep in mind that over the last 30 years Africa’s life expectancy has actually dropped.[link] Eritrea, on the other hand, has “continued its steep rise in life expectancy. In 2009 the average was 66 years, up from 61 years in 2000 and just 36 years in 1990.”[link] That’s right: most Eritreans lived until 36 years old! In light of this reality, how is it that 22 year-old Eritrea, the second youngest nation in Africa, now has the highest life expectancy in continental sub-Saharan Africa?[link] Additionally, Eritrea’s immunization rates are even higher than that of Australia’s.[link] It’s HIV prevalence is lower than that of the U.S. [link] How is this possible when, as recently as 2009, a Physicians for Peace report determined that Eritrea only had 5 pediatricians and 7 surgeons serving the entire nation (a population of 4.9 million).[link]Therefore the government had to be creative, efficient, and effective to meet the citizen’s needs. So what did it do until it could train and acquire the doctors necessary to fill the gap? We have often heard that “necessity is the mother of invention” and as such, Eritrea took on innovative means of providing health care. The trick, was to do their way and on their own terms without the all-to-common interference of paternalistic NGOs, the IMF, or other institutions that aren’t beholden to the Eritrean people. One example of the Eritrea’s creative approach to health care can be seen in this World Bank video that illustrates how multi-sectorial collaboration between multiple ministries can meet the population’s health goals:

Also consider that Eritrea was able to reduce malaria prevalence and mortality by unique and cost-effective approaches. While most sub-Saharan African nations failed in their efforts to use insecticide treated nets (ITNs) to lower infection rates, Eritrea made use of those same ITNs to virtually wipe out malaria across the country.[link] Around the continent, national governments were distributing the nets but few of the people were actually using them. In Eritrea, however, they employed Africa’s only national-scale ITN intervention (as of 2008) and promoted the use of free ITNs through widespread community campaigns and innovative”health facilities” that allowed them to surpass the Abuja Target for usage levels.[link, link] One research paper reflects on the nation’s success and concludes that the “‘Abuja Declaration targets for the Roll Back Malaria initiative were met on schedule because the government had set even higher targets for itself.”[link] Though Eritrea is among the poorest countries in the world it has emerged as “one of the leading countries in the African Region that demonstrated that malaria can be controlled with a limited resource environment.”[link]

So what about the whole lack of doctors issue? Well, it turns out Eritrea established the Orotta School of Medicine in 2004 and an accompanying School of Dentistry back in 2007. The problem, as the government quickly learned, was that Eritrean medical graduates had to undergo residency training outside the US and would often avoid returning as a result of better economic opportunities outside the country (in line with the Henry-Todaro model of migration). In response to this problem, they started a partnership with George Washington University and Physicians for Peace to start a post-graduate program at the medical school in 2008.[link] The plan was to provide specialty training for the few existing general practitioners and future medical school graduates. Unlike medical partnerships in many-developing nations,characterized by dependency and lasting indefinite periods, this partnership was an in-and-out-operation that lasted just two years.[link] In the 5 year period following the establishment of the post-graduate program, the medical school trained 15 pediatricians, 5 gynecologists, and 5surgeons, with an additional 4 residents are still under training.[link] Furthermore, the dean of the medical school explains that, “Within nine years, the Orotta School of Medicine has succeeded in training 176 doctors while the Orotta School of Dental Medicine shall graduate 24 dentists in 2014. At present, there are 311 medical and 80 dental students pursuing their education.”[link] But it takes more than doctors. In this regard, the nation established health colleges and schools of associate nursing in the cities of Barentu, Ginda and Mendefera, which have trained 1,800 nurses, 2,700 associate nurses and 905 technicians.[link]

Since we’re on the topic of education, which is the focus of MDG 2, let us assess Eritrea’s progress in this regard. The Eritrean government invests 45% of its annual budget in education.[link] On account of increased primary and secondary education Eritrea has rapidly increased literacy rates from 41% in 1991 to 80% in 2013 with a goal of reaching 85% by 2015.[link] In 1991 there were only 25 centers of literacy but by 2011 there were more than 800, representing a growth of 3200%.[link] The “Adult Education Program” has been key in this growth.[link] But what about tertiary education?

Well, following the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia, the government produced a white paper assessing the state of health care in the nation and decided that it wanted to expand tertiary education.[link] The reasons for this were primarily on the basis of meeting developmental goals by training a skilled work force. Unfortunately, there was only one University in the country for 4 million people so in 2003, the government opened 7 new colleges and institutes to expand higher education.[link] Instead of expanding the only university into a mega-university where knowledge is highly concentrated among a few selected elite that come from primarily urban centers, the government decided to pursue a policy of equitable access and quality of education.[link] Therefore the colleges were dispersed in all regions of the nation and situated in places that would make them most effective (eg. marine college by the sea, agricultural college in a fertile region, etc.). A question frequently asked by external observers is, why did the government focus on technical colleges and institutes instead of internationally accredited universities? It all has to do with the government’s national developmental plan. As important as a class on “Sexuality in Scandinavia” may be in understanding human society and the world, Eritrea is more concerned with addressing its existential crisis by meeting the basics needs of a society ravaged by war. Providing classes like “Applied Modern Irrigation Techniques” make much more sense in the near term. Institutes and technical colleges provide more of these classes because they are focused on specialized education for industrialization. As the institutions of higher education continue to grow, the government plans to expand them into universities.[link] In light of Eritrea’s success and emerging research on tertiary education in Africa, the African Development Fund chose to sponsor Eritrea’s efforts. In a 2010 report on Eritrean higher education, they state the following:

“Economies increasingly need a more sophisticated labor force equipped with competencies, knowledge, and workplace skills that cannot be developed only in primary school or in secondary school programs. There is now considerable evidence-based literature that a large pool of workers with tertiary education is a prerequisite for attracting foreign investment and technologically-based industry that can transform the economic structure of a low- income economy…. The project will there fore support the building of the capacity of the country’s seven higher education institutions to produce
the required skilled workforce. Furthermore, with this kind of support certain key sectors,such as agriculture and mining, will be rejuvenated to contribute to accelerated economic growth and reduction of poverty.”[link]

Thus, Eritrea has achieved major developmental advances across many sectors of society, putting it on track to meet 6 of the 8 MDGs. With Eritrea’s recent economic boom, achieving MDG1 is also in the realm of possibility.[link] Entire papers can be written on the reasons for Eritrea’s recent economic successes but suffice it say that the following factors have been contributing factors in development and the alleviation of poverty (MDG1): principled focus on self-reliance, shunning of unnecessary aid packages with onerous preconditions, limiting international NGO interference, developing the domestic economy, focusing on infrastructure development via dirigist policies, conducting business via equal partnership, developing a culture of good and clean governance, developing strong national mining laws, etc. On account of my limited time, I will save writing about these topics for another time. However, the point is that Eritrea has made major gains in the last 22 years and is one of few developing countries on track to meet most, if not all, of the MDGs. To the surprise of many, it has done this in the face of Ethiopian occupation of its land, repeated attacks by Ethiopia, illegal UN sanctions, no USAID (the only country in Africa to kick them out), recurrent droughts (only country in the Horn of Africa without famine over last 3 years), hostile campaigns to isolate the country, and intermittent regional conflicts. Although major change has been taking place in the country for the last decade, some keen observers are now realizing that Eritrea is that cusp of a major changes in the near term.[link] The hope is that fellow Africans will pay attention to this underreported nation’s progress. Eritrea just might be model for future African development.

Needless war engulfs a unique African oasis … but hope for democracy, stability and security still alive (Part I)

PETER WORTHINGTON

In Memory of The Good Friend of Eritrea
Peter Worthington R.I.P

By Peter Worthington December 27, 1998 Toronto Sun
In Africa, a continent racked with wars, revolutions and repression and increasingly regarded as an economic and social basket case, there is one country that is reversing the trend and today is the democratic hope of the continent.

It is Eritrea, the newest African state and UN member, about the size of England (or Florida) with a population roughly that of Toronto (3.5 million), situated on the Red Sea, above the Horn of Africa, bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

“Not many know much about Eritrea; even fewer care.

It’s too bad, because Eritrea is unique in Africa, if not the developing world. It got full independence in 1993 after winning a 30-year struggle against Ethiopian dominance that turned into a full-scale war when emperor Haile Selassie was assassinated in 1974 after a military coup led by a homicidal Marxist, Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Prior to World War II, Eritrea had been an Italian colony since the 1880s, then under British control when the Brits clobbered the Italians in 1941. The UN ruled in 1952 that Ethiopia should have “trusteeship” over an autonomous Eritrea. Ten years later Ethiopia forcibly annexed Eritrea — igniting the struggle for independence.

That’s a capsulized history of events.

Deja vu … Memories of a decade ago, our man Worthington revisits Eritrea, Africa’s newest state and UN member. Below, Peter strikes a pose for democracy on his last visit.

But not the real story.

Independent since 1993, Eritrea is once again at war with Ethiopia, which claims ownership of some of Eritrea’s border.

It seems nutty to outsiders — and to Eritreans — but wars often start for goofy reasons — witness a murder in Sarajevo in 1914.

The present war aside, Eritrea is so unusual that experienced observers — diplomats, aid workers, journalists — have difficulty accepting that what they see is real and can last.

Since it won independence at a cost of some 250,000 lives, Eritrea has confounded experts and reversed a trend in Africa that has been depressingly and persistently gloomy since the first country (Ghana) achieved independence from British colonial rule in 1956.

I’ve just returned from Eritrea, seeing the war zones, consulting diplomats, aid workers, Ethiopians, President Isaias Afewerki, and ordinary people. As one who has reported from a score of African countries over the past 40 years, I’ve no hesitation saying that Eritrea is unlike anything I’ve encountered in Africa.

After his first visit to the capital of Asmara, journalist Frans van der Houdt, with 14 years of covering Africa for a Dutch news agency, remarked: “I’d just about given up on Africa as hopeless, until seeing this country. Now I have renewed hope.”

Aside from the trauma and potential harm of another war (which Eritrea would surely win if it became serious) what makes Eritrea so special is how it is adjusting to peace and taking a moral lead in Africa. Consider:

Asmara is the most civilized city in Africa, despite Eritrea being one of the poorest countries. In 1993 the World Bank figured the average annual income was $75-$150, and life expectancy was age 50. There is no begging, little crime, streets are clean and safe.

Asmara is a pretty Italian-style city of 400,000 with a palm-lined main street, sidewalk cafes, espresso machines and no building higher than seven storeys.

Eritrea has no political prisoners (itself an oddity), there is no corruption in high places, no government limousines, bribery is unknown, all the “leaders” live modestly — some without pay.

Eritrea refuses to accept unlimited foreign aid, which it feels is corrupting; it won’t accept big loans (which have to be repaid with interest), thus refusing to mortgage itself to international banks. Religious aid is accepted only if it’s secular.

It is the most “multicultural” and ethnically diverse country in Africa, with eight distinct and esoteric language groups (Nara, Tigrinya, Bilien, Kunama, Afar, Saho and others you also never heard of). It’s equally divided between Christian and Muslim with some Animism, yet is a secular state where all passionately, selflessly, proudly, confidently endorse their “Eritrean” identity.

An internal revolution has been won for women, who have mostly achieved equality from traditional feudalism where culturally they were regarded as “chattel.” The law now gives women full equality with rights of land ownership, choosing mates and making their own decisions on divorce. Arranged child marriages (age nine or 10) are forbidden, and husbands must share property with wives and kids. The horror of genital mutilation (euphemistically called female circumcision and infibulation) is ending for women.

There is national service for everyone between 18 and 45, men and women. On the frontlines today in the disputed border areas where an estimated 200,000 Ethiopian soldiers are poised, women and their AK-47s are with men in the trenches — only this time without the Afro hairdos and shorts that distinguished them in the liberation war.

Today hairstyles vary and all wear camouflage uniforms.

How women have blended into the army, where they’re all still proudly called “fighters” rather than soldiers, is unprecedented (and something the damn fools who run the Canadian army might study and learn from).

The last thing Africa — and Ethiopia and Eritrea — needs is another war. Yet that’s what has happened — another unknown war, like its 30-year struggle, during which Canada supported the dreadful Mengistu regime with aid and branded Eritreans fighting for independence as “rebels” (as the CBC liked to call them).

If it weren’t so unpleasant, the present “war” over apparently barren and empty land would have overtones of the great novel Scoop by Evelyn Waugh, which was inspired by Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. However it’s become sinister, what with Ethiopia “ethnically cleansing” itself of some 40,000 Eritreans who lived and worked in Ethiopia, some of them for all their lives.

Last spring Ethiopia’s parliament in essence declared war and bombed Asmara, while Eritrea retaliated without formally declaring war. Through it all, Eritrea has so far remained something of a paragon of patience, resolve and even democracy, while bloodying Ethiopia’s nose.

Unlike other African countries, Eritrea spends little on the trappings of power. President Isaias is informal, preferring open-neck shirts and occasionally having a drink in a local bar across the street from his modest presidential offices. (People recall that when the Congo’s controversial and brutal President Laurent Kabila visited Eritrea, Isaias suggested a drink and much to the horror of Kabila’s bodyguards and perhaps Kabila himself, Isaias took him across the street to a bar)
HEROES … The guerrillas of the past leave a lasting impression to this day in this so-called war.

All over Eritrea roads are being repaired, new roads and houses built. Education is a priority, with English mandatory (“knowing English is a passport to the world,” a teacher told me in 1988). Asmara’s main street, Independence Avenue (renamed from Haile Selassie Avenue), has been turned into a mall with only taxis and buses allowed. Curiously, it must have more photo shops, bars and public pay phones than any other African city.

Starvation has been replaced with flourishing markets. To a Westerner, the country is astonishingly inexpensive. Credit cards are not used, except in one hotel, which is a problem if the tourist trade expands as Eritreans hope. In short Eritrea is an oasis of hope for democracy, stability, security.

My interest in Eritrea dates back to 1988 when I was with the barefoot guerrilla army of the EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation Front) along with Toronto’s Rob Roy, doing a TV documentary on that war and the Ethiopian famine.

We had the privilege — luck — of being the only Western journalists who witnessed the EPLF rout of an Ethiopian corps in the war’s most decisive battle, now immortalized in Eritrean folklore as the Battle of Afabet. Some 20,000 Ethiopian soldiers were killed — one third of the total Ethiopian army in Eritrea.

Afabet rates as one of history’s decisive battles; the biggest battle in Africa since the British 8th Army routed Field Marshal Rommel’s Afrika Corps at el Alamein in World War II. To Eritreans today, Afabet rates as the Battle of Kursk does to Russians, when Hitler’s tank army was destroyed and the tide of war changed.

Roy and I saw and photographed 10,000 bedraggled Ethiopian prisoners. We also found stacks of bags of Canadian flour, a “gift of the Canadian people” to the starving of Ethiopians, in the kitchens of the Ethiopian army. Gallon cans of cooking oil from the U.S. and Europe supposedly for starving refugees, were also in army kitchens and village stores.

Afabet was the pivotal battle of the war. For miles, the mountain road and desert plains were littered with the charred remains of Soviet armour, trucks, guns. Ethiopian dead littered the scenery, desiccating in the dry heat.
A “gift of the Canadian people” supposedly donated to starving refugees.

Being with these guerrillas left a lasting impression.

Movement was mostly at night, sleeping in caves and hollowed mountains to avoid Ethiopian airstrikes. The EPLF had constructed a 1,000-bed hospital inside a mountain, complete with dental and plastic surgery, operating theatres (every type of operation except heart surgery) and labs that produced penicillin and medical drugs according to world standards.

The Eritreans established a hidden factory that churned out plastic sandals for the “fighters,” 30% of whom were women. (The EPLF refused to call themselves “soldiers” because that implied a permanent occupation.) Women went into battle with men, some as platoon leaders and both killed and were killed alongside men.

The “liberation war” was fought without military aid from the U.S. or Soviet Union, or any country. Eritrean weapons all were captured from the Soviet/Cuban/East German-supplied Ethiopians. At Afabet, as at other battles, captured Soviet tanks and artillery were turned around and used immediately against the Ethiopians which boasted the largest, best-equipped modern army in Africa. Three Soviet military advisers were captured at Afabet.

The Ethiopians were driven from Eritrea in 1991 and Mengistu sought asylum in Zimbabwe, courtesy of his ideological soulmate, Robert Mugabe, who is in the process of screwing up Zimbabwe. Mengistu resides in that country today.

The feat of 3.5 million Eritreans thrashing a country of 58 million, using the enemy’s own weapons, remains remarkable and unprecedented — the first successful “war of liberation” in Africa against an African oppressor rather than a colonial power.

Ethiopia has always been revered as the only country in Africa that escaped European colonization. Until he was murdered, Haile Selassie was regarded (wrongly) by Westerners (as well as by Jamaican Rastafarians) as something of a deity when, in fact, he was a feudal imperialist.

That was then, this is now.Eritrea deserves better than another war, and deserves support and encouragement — which it is not getting, and has never received from Canada or the U.S. which have always opted to back Ethiopia. Maybe this will change.

Eritrea : A Dreamland of All Kinds of Tourists

Written By: Seare H.Michael Eritrea Profile

Eritrea – a young nation, yet possessing evidences of ancient civilization; a heritage that dates back to the creation of human kind gifted with fascinating features of land. Moving colors of culture, a wonderland of pleasure and a magic sea of adventure; a coastal line most suitable to scuba diving, not to mention swimming and rafting; a desert attractive for camel rides in the bright moonlight of the summer night; a fascinating countryside of landscape and vegetation, permanently forest and green; challenging mountains and slopes, risky cliffs and dykes attractive to climbers; an ideal land of explorers, the dreamland of all visitors; an enchanted land that is simply magnificent with a breathtaking highland; refreshing beaches of the tropical paradise; spectacular coral garden of the underworld heaven.
Anicient archaeological sites

It is a unique country, with a treasure of history, a hospitable people of shared smile, famous for their faith and culture, dancing in harmony with nature and one another; a diverse culture of many colors, yet united as one that no one can disperse. Home to faith and religion, the land of ancient spiritual meditation; the place of grand monuments and unique monasteries; blessed land of impressive churches, yet with history of the first mosque; land of various ethnic groups of different lifestyle and a unique tradition.

As a matter of fact, tourists are welcome to enjoy the attractions. To begin with, lose yourself in the Dahlak Islands to enjoy the underwater world of a billion creatures. On your way exploring the 350 unspoiled islands, you should never miss to stay a moment in one of the hottest places on earth, the Danakil Depression with 300 feet below sea level.

Hence, to the adventure tourists, there lies one of the majestic volcanoes around Dubbi of Eritrea which was created by the violent underground activity of the African Plate (Nubian) to the west and the Eurasian, Arabian, Indian, and Somalian Plates to the east. These volcanoes along with other large number of volcanoes lie along the Great Rift Valley.
Anicient archaeological sites2

Also tourists may cruise down the southeastern portion of the coastal plain and enjoy the Denakil Depression, the lowest and hottest place on planet, which is also part of The Great Rift Valley. Again this depression is the site of what is known as the ‘Alid volcano’. Hence, apart from tourist attraction, researchers have assessed that the area of this volcano is a potential for possible geothermal resources, which may be used in the future to produce electricity for the country.

If you happen to have more time, take the pleasure to discover the historical shipwrecks, there exist loads of wreck ships ruined during the Second World War. There also exists a bulk of Ethiopian wreck ships destroyed by the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front during the armed struggle for independence. Hence, the historical ships in the Eritrean Red Sea are “a dream come true” to the international wreck ship diving tourist divers.

Studies have discovered that the Dahlak Kebir Island in the Gubbet Musnefit area harboring some Italian wreck ships from WWII. Some of them include: Nazario Sauro,Urania, promoeteo, Giuseppe Mazzini, Bottego, etc…
Moreover, tourists are most attracted to the sandy beach of the Red Sea enjoying the wide sandy beaches and calm sea waves along the Red Sea coast; these are the safe heavens to nature-loving tourist: The Gurgusum, Buri Peninsula, Zula Bay, Mersa Gulbub, Mersa Ibrahimand Ras Kuba.

Again, as you cruise back to the capital of the country take the winding route of ‘Filfil Selemuna’ to explore thewildlife of the green belt forest. For this reason, for those bird lovers, and bird hunters, you will need to stay more in Semenawi Bahri (Filfil), a few kilometers from Asmara, is protected area for the county’s national park for it is a region with numerous species of fauna and flora.

Studies have proved that the region is rich in wildlife such as ground hornbill family bird life that includes francolins,sunbird, shrikes, canaries, turacou, serins, starling, green pigeon, oriole, barbet, robin baboon and babblers.

Moreover, here and there in the cloudy vegetation of Selemuna, various love-birds, wood dove, coucal, warblers, perinea, cisticola, woodpeckers, cameroptera, crombeck, varieties of parrots, warblers, tit and hornbillare chanting and dancing together with nature. Equally attractive alternative, one may travel along the moving landscape of Nefasit – Arberebue, just through the sweeping fogs and dark clouds in a steam train or a diesel one.

To test ancient archeological site dating back to 400-500 BC, one should travel to the south of the country so as to enjoy the impressive ruins of Kohaito, Tokondae, Keskese, and Belew Kelew and or Metera of Senafe.

Grand monuments and striking ancient structures are still standing high in these sites. These include obelisks with inscriptions dating back to the 3rd century. Just a few miles drive, one should explore the oldest Christian Monasteries of the country including ‘Debre Libanos’, founded late 5th century by Syrian Missionary Aba Metae or Matewos. This is sited perched in the edge of a cliff of the Ham Plateau.

Eritrea has more to offer to tourists in its cities and towns. The architecture includes a range of style Turkish,Egyptian, and Italian styles. The Neo-Florentine, Neoclassical Art Deco of the 1930s Italian structures is prevalent in the country. One may enjoy these structures just at a glance when strolling down town Asmara, the capital of the country.

The country’s capital itself is most of the times quoted as “the museum piece of architecture.” Asmara is situated on a plateau some 115kms away from the Red Sea port of Massawa. It stands in the cool central, and atop of the eastern escarpments. It was established early in the beginning of the 20th century with the advent of Italian colonialism in Eritrea.

The city is connected with the port city of Massawa with an impressive highway zigzagging down from above 2,200 meters to the sea level. It is also linked with the port with one of the World’s most amazing steam locomotive travels. The city is always admired for its majestic building styles. It is unique for it is a complete Art Deco city. It is believed to have an outstanding architectural heritage possessing the greatest concentration of the most advanced 1930s architecture in the world. It is said that in the 1940s, Asmara was one of the dazzling international cities in the world.
Asm-eri-pic

The buildings stand a living monument for the 20th century wonderful inventions. Someone strolling down the streets of the city would simply enjoy buildings that look like ships floating in a sea. Some others, such as the Fiatagliero building look like a flying jet plane. Many others buildings symbolize Guglielmo Marconi’s invention, the radio receiver. Hence, Asmara is a memory of architectural heritage of the 1920s of the Italian colonial times.

Additionally, the city is special for its cleanliness and good network of transportation. The hotels or accommodations in the city are suitable for all kinds of pockets; whether it is business trip or a leisurevacation. The city is active all the nightlong; the various pubs, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs provide tourists with striking native dishes, international delicacies, alcoholic drinks and beverages. More importantly, however, Asmara is loved by many as one of the most peaceful, charming, and civilized cities in the world not only for its climate and setting but also for the calm dignity of its citizens.

This is common throughout the major Eritrean cities in the country. More than anything else the security, and the hospitable citizens of country make tourists feel at home. The people of Eritrea are very friendly; they have the belief that, “a guest at home is god at home.”

A special test for tourists is also the sites of the liberation struggle situated in bleak mountains of the Sahel, northern angle of Eritrea. Hence one must be willing to enjoy the arduous journey across the rough terrain mountains to visit these miraculous EPLF defenses, trenches, bunkers of Nakfa, Himbol and the Roras Plateaus, and the Denden terrains.
rough terrain mountains

Most prominently, Eritrea is the land of important historic routes including the following international historic routes: The Holy Grail or Ark of Covenant Trail on which the Ark of the Covenant was allegedly brought from the Middle East into Eritrea; And the Queen of Sheba Triangle that involved stopping over of the Queen in Eritrea and supposedly she gave birth to the son of Solomon in Eritrea Besides, the Route of Sahaba on which some disciples of Mohammed travelled from Mecca to Massawa and to inland of Eritrea.Hence, the magic in the country is countless; the adventure delightful; the attractions impressive; the people and their culture welcoming; their life bright and cheerful, their diversity colorful; their common factors pride and confidence; their harmony and unity, united in the same wave.

ERITREA: 3 Seasons in 2 Hours

Written by Luwam Brhane

Eritrea is beautifully located at the highest landmass of the African continent. As a result the highlands of Eritrea have ameliorating climate conditions. Resulting from these climatic conditions at higher altitudes we find vegetative cover and fertile soils which are suitable for agricultural purposes. Our country is mostly known for its well-combined weather: in Eritrea it can never be too hot or too cold, and this gives a lot of visitors a pleasant stay and for most of us it gives us a peaceful state of mind.img1

Eritrea has a variety of climatic conditions. Asmara at 2,350 meters (7,700 feet) has a pleasant climate all year (average temperature of 16° Celsius (60° Fahrenheit)) and receives 508 mm (20 inches) of rainfall annually. The eastern coastal areas receive the unpredictable, “little rains” (belg) during October to March, while the other areas get “main rains” (kiremti) from June to September. Matter of fact In the highlands, further inland, with an elevation between 1,800 and 2,100 meters (5,900 and 6,900 feet) the hottest month is usually May (around 30°) and in winter (December to February) temperatures are near freezing point at night.
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While at the sea level along the coast (Massawa, Assab), the period from June to September is very hot (40-50°). In the period December to February (rainy season) the temperature varies from 20 to 35°. Massawa at sea level has an average annual temperature of 30° Celsius (86° Fahrenheit) and an annual precipitation of 205 mm (80 inches). In the western lowlands (Agordat,Barentu), the temperatures and the rainy seasons are comparable to those on the coast.

Eritrea is a year-round destination for the highlands while at other places it depends on the place one spends most of one’s holidays in or the activities one wishes to undertake. We are indeed talking about the land where one can experience three seasons in just two hours or one hour and a half of drive – from the rugged mountain peaks of Emba Soira to the arid desert heat of the Danakil Depression (100 meters below sea level and which is one of the hottest places on earth) to the cool breezes of the Red Sea.

“3 seasons in 2 hours”, goes the tourism motto in Eritrea. With the great land scape Eritrea has to offer, numerous sites of natural attractions and rich historical monuments invite fascination to any visitor. Both the high mountains and lowland depressions are dotted with unique features, including breathtaking tropical beaches, beautiful mountain ranges, tranquil landscapes, fertile plains and verdant hillsides among others.

In just two hours, it is possible to travel from the cool 2,438m (8,000ft) ‘city in the clouds’ down to sea level Danakil Depression to the hot coastal desert strip. A number of travel agents offer different excursion packages to various destinations.
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Asmara, the capital city, lies 2,400 metres above sea level with a friendly climate of 17 degrees centigrade annual mean temperatures. Summer comes in April and May, with temperatures reaching 25 degrees centigrade while December and January bring the coldest season with temperatures of between 18 and 20 degrees centigrade. June and July are the months of rainfall.

For everybody who visits Eritrea, an absolute must-see is the journey from Asmara to Massawa for the best and unforgettable scenic sites and beautiful landscape that no one would want to miss out. From the terraced mountains of Asmara area, the journey to Massawa takes you down a mountainous road with quite spectacular views. Half an hour drive from Asmara by car brings you to a small town of Nefasit overlooking mount Bizen. At the top of this mountain, 400 metres high and 7 km from Nefasit, stands Debre Bizen monastery, which is 700 years old. The only way to access it is by climbing on foot.

The trip from Asmara to Massawa takes about 2 hours – where the “3 seasons in 2 hours” motto gets originates from. The experience of three seasons during the journey:
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    The fall – the cool air of mountainous Asmara

    The spring – Plateau around Ghinda area

    The Summer – the heat of the Red Sea desert

You can visit Eritrea any time of the year because of the pleasant whether in both Asmara and the country’s highlands. The highest temperature may go up to 30 degrees centigrade in May.September to January may be a good time to visit the coast. Another favorable period is from around April to the beginning of June because the temperatures are not too hot. But either ways the gorgeous climate and delicate landscape and above all its welcoming people definitely makes Eritrea a place to be and make some great memories with your loved ones.

Eritrea’s The Fred Hollows IOL Laboratory: The first of its kind in the horn of Africa region

The Fred Hollows IOL Laboratory: The first of its kind in the region

Friday, 12 April 2013 09:31 | 
Written by Taken from a brochure by Fred Hollows IOL

The Fred Hollows Internal Ocular Laboratory established in 1994 in Eritrea by Fred Hollows, an Australian friend of Eritrea, is one of its kinds in the region. The foundation was established in Eritrea with a view to provide developing nations with the source of high-quality, low cost IOLs for use in lens replacement surgery. It is a high-tech pharmaceutical facility, designed specifically for the production of single-piece intra-ocular lenses and other sterile medical devises.
The Fred Hollows IOL Laboratory

The lab was over engineered in order to guarantee the highest quality manufacturing facility and a finished product that would match world class standard. All manufacturing operations are conducted in class M5.5 clean rooms, while finished products packaging is conducted in class M3.5 laminar flow work stations.

The Fred Hollows IOL Lab. Is dedicated to manufacture high quality, single piece lenses and other eye problems cure which are affordable to eye care programs in developing countries. It is committed to providing world class IOLs and Pharmaceutical facilities, certified by Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS).
IOL Manufacturing operation

At each stage in the IOL Manufacturing operation, quality control staff and on line quality assurances inspectors ensure that, from the time a raw material enters the production facility until its conversion into a finished lens complies with the code of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). These meet international Standards of GMP for the manufacture of intraocular lenses and are guaranteed by a comprehensive system of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) covering all areas of production, Quality Control, Quality Assurance, facility design, equipment maintenance and order processing.

The lab is equipped with modern Quality Control testing facilities, including its own in-house microbiological test Laboratory, performed in accordance with Good Laboratory Practice (GLP).

Quality is built into the product at every stage of the manufacturing process by an interlocutory set of over 400 written SOPs. The products are verified for several non-routine and re-validation tests by an external acknowledged independent world authority on the chemical and biological testing laboratory.

Fred Hollows IOLs are made of clinical grade Perspex CQUV. This and their design and finish ensure that the outcome for YAG capsulotomy to be excellent. The single piece technology provides the most flexible haptics of facilities easy insertion and rapid centration. They are lathe cut to computer controlled parameters, polished using revolutionary polishing system that guarantees the very best surface and edge finish available. Lenses are ethylene oxide sterilized and autoclaved in water for injection to ensure a product of the highest quality and efficacy.

Source: shabait