United Nations: 2.3 million people need food aid in Eritrean


March 12, 2006 (ASMARA) — Food has become more expensive and shortages more likely in Eritrea since the government slashed free foreign food aid to more than a million people six months ago, a U.N. report has said.

Food warehouses have been shut since September when Eritrea cut the number of people receiving free food from 1.3 million in August to 72,000, to reduce dependence on foreign aid.

Eritrea says the United Nations has depicted a humanitarian crisis to divert attention from the world body’s failure to force neighboring Ethiopia to comply with an agreement in 2000 on the two countries’ disputed border.

“Some indications of food insecurity have been reported in most regions due to government restrictions on the free flow of grains and the unwillingness of farmers to sell their outputs to the Eritrean Grain Board,” said a weekly report by the U.N. World Food Programme published late on Friday.

“The high price of food commodities and the limited purchasing power of poor households are already apparent.”

Aid workers estimate that last year’s harvest was better than the previous year. Before last year’s harvest, the United Nations said that 2.3 million people needed food aid out of an estimated 3.6 million population

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