Eritrea expels six Italian NGOs – aid workers


Feb 16, 2006 (ASMARA) — Eritrean regime has asked six Italian charities to leave the country, saying they did not meet the requirements of a law regulating non-governmental organizations (NGOs), aid workers said on last Thursday.

The NGOs asked to leave were CESVI, GVC, Manitese, NEXUS, COSVA, and COOPI

A letter from the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare was sent to all six organizations, thanking them for their contributions to relief and rehabilitation in Eritrea, but informing them they had not met the registration requirements.

“Yes, we received the letter earlier this week, asking us to terminate our activities,” said one aid worker.


The May law increases the reporting requirements of foreign and local NGOs, requires a minimum size, prevents direct U.N. funding of them and taxes imports of aid.

The government has said the law is intended to guarantee the rights and transparency of NGOs.

Several other international NGOs — including two Italian NGOs — have been registered under the terms of the proclamation and are working normally, aid workers said.

One of the poorest countries in the world with a gross domestic product per capita of about $130 per year, the Red Sea state has repeatedly expressed its desire to be self-reliant and independent of foreign aid.

The Eritrean regime has always expressed an increasing frustration with the international community, which it says has not done enough to enforce Ethiopian compliance with a “final and binding” independent ruling on the Ethiopian-Eritrean border.

In a sign of such frustration, national staffs who work with U.N. peacekeepers were arrested at the weekend.

Last year, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and western U.N. peacekeepers who monitor the border with Ethiopia, were also expelled.

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