Eritrea. Eritrea’s conflict with Yemen over which of the countries entitled to the strategically important Hani Islands in the Red Sea continued since fighting between the countries occurred in December 1995. The sovereignty of the archipelago has not been established in any international agreement, but in May France managed to negotiate an agreement in which the countries refrain from further armed confrontation and instead commit to solving the conflict through mediation. Eritrea broke the deal in August by occupying the island of Little Hanish, but withdrew its troops after two weeks.
In April 2002, the International Arbitration Court in The Hague issued a ruling on the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict. The 1000 km long border between the two countries was set by a tribunal consisting of 5 international specialists. The border towns of Zalembessa, Alitena and Bada were given to Ethiopia, while Eritrea retained the symbolic significance of the city of Badme since it was where the war started in 1998. According to the experts, it was Ethiopia in particular that met its territorial requirements. However, the actual border demarcation between the two countries has been postponed three times and was not completed in 2004.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: What does ER stand for? In the field of geography, this two letter acronym means Eritrea. Check this to see its other meanings in English and other 35 languages.
In 2002, Eritrea produced only 10% of the necessary food as a result of the drought. When added to the consequences of the war with Ethiopia, the country entered 2003 with the most serious food crisis since independence. During the first few months of the year, 10% of the cattle stock had died and the government estimated that around 80% could die by the end of the year.
According to UN estimates from 2003, 15-20% of children under the age of 5 suffered from malnutrition, of which 10,000 were in an acute critical condition. About 1.4 million of the country’s people are starving.
Following the inauguration of the civil government in Denmark in November 2001, Eritrea was declared a program cooperation country for Danish aid, and the last projects are expected to be phased out in 2005.
In October 2004, the government escalated its verbal attacks on Sudan, claiming the existence of a plot between this country and Ethiopia on the murder of Afwerki. Eritrean Minister of Information, Ali Abdu Ahmed, declared that the Khartoum government “continues its efforts to sabotage the peace and stability of Eritrea and the region through its terrorist government and its efforts to assassinate our president”. Meanwhile, the country became increasingly isolated as it closed all its borders. According to international observers, there was still less aid and relief for the country and access to uncensored information is becoming increasingly difficult.
According to Countryaah.com, the population of Eritrea in 1996 was 2,204,111, ranking number 140 in the world. The population growth rate was -0.490% yearly, and the population density was 21.8240 people per km2.
Population, society and rights
The Eritrean population includes several Tigrinya-speaking groups (about 80% of the total), as well as Saho, Afar, Hedareb, Bilen, Kumana, Nara and Rashaida. The Christian population of the Coptic rite is concentrated on the plateau, while that of the lowland is predominantly Sunni Muslims.
Following the war of 1998-2000, the Coptic Church of Eritrea underwent a progressive process of politicization that led it to break away from the Ethiopian patriarchate in 1998 and establish its own autonomous synod. In colonial times, Catholicism and Protestantism also spread throughout the country, which nevertheless maintained a secondary weight.
In addition to English and Italian, which are used in higher education and commerce, the most common languages are Tigrinya and Arabic. Despite the efforts made in the field of primary education, the Eritrean school system remains largely deficient. The nationalization of the only university, managed in Asmara by Catholic missionaries, has contributed to further reducing the training opportunities for young Eritreans.
The country is plagued by chronic and widespread food shortages, particularly in rural areas, and by hygienic and sanitary deficiencies: malaria, dengue and hiv are widespread. Respect for human rights is largely disregarded. Abuses, violence and torture of civilians and in particular of political prisoners are on the agenda. A large number of detainees are untraceable and the requests of the families are not followed up. Human rights organizations have repeatedly denounced the use of forced labor in the mining sector. The only party that can operate legally is Isaias Afewerki’s Pfdj. The media are entirely controlled by the state. The conditions of political oppression and endemic poverty explain the very high number of Eritrean citizens refugees abroad.