Opinion: Is Ethiopia’s Refusal To Use Eritrea’s Port Fueling Starvation?

Opinion: Is Ethiopia’s Refusal To Use Eritrea’s Port Fueling Starvation?

Ethiopia’s stellar economic growth story over the last decade is slowly being eroded by one of the worst drought the East African nation has experience  since Band Aid.

According to aid agencies more than 10 million Ethiopians are facing starvation and more than $1.4 billion is needed to deal with the crisis. Only half of that has been secured so far.

But as famine ravaged the horn of Africa nation, aid ships are waiting for days to unload food aid at the Djibouti port, the only that serves the landlocked nation of about 96 million people.

Ethiopia have however rejected an offer from  Eritrea to use its Red Sea port to bring in this food to starving villagers in the northern  part of the country.

The two east African countries have a long-standing enmity  after the former brothers-in-arms fell out in 1998 over a border dispute that led to a two year war which claimed around 100,000 casualties, cost billions of dollars, and continues to serve as the main source of regional instability in the Horn of Africa, Aljazeera reported.

But in the wake of the recent worst drought in Ethiopia that has been caused by adverse El Niño weather, Eritrea offered one of its two large ports to help bring in food aid into Ethiopia and clear a backlog of food aid at the small Djibouti port.

Ethiopia rejected this offer.

Thomas Mountain, an independent journalist living and reporting from Eritrea, said in an opinion piece published by Countercurrents.org that this decision has kept food aid from tens (if not hundreds) of starving Ethiopians.

“The question has to be asked, what kind of government sits back and allows tens if not hundreds of thousands of its own people to die of starvation because of some political dispute with its neighbor?” Mountain said.

” All backlog of food aid would be cleared up quickly if Ethiopia will only use the Eritrean ports, an offer repeatedly made in the past during droughts to no avail.”

This is the worst drought Ethiopians have had to face in three decades and it has killed hundreds of thousands of livestock and left over 10 million people vulnerable to malnutrition, disease, and other harm.

In the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia, including that land that is now Eritrea, hundreds of thousands of people died.

Although the coffee producing nation has made huge strides in economic growth over the last decade, growing by over 8 percent year after year, the horn of Africa nation now needs any humanitarian aid it can get to help its citizens, mostly in the northern part, survive the drought.