Caritas Launches Major Appeal for Eritrea

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2004 ( Caritas Internationalis, the largest Catholic organization of aid and solidarity, has launched a $2.5 million appeal for drought relief for Eritrea.

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The appeal will help Eritrea’s people cope with the effects of an ongoing drought and the lingering hardships from the conflict in 2000 with neighboring Ethiopia, the organization explained in a statement Tuesday. Church clinics and village distribution points will distribute the aid.

The drought has already killed a great number of families’ livestock. As part of the aid program, five kid goats or lambs will be given to 1,500 farming households, with priority to poor female-headed households.

Emergency medicine will be provided through 29 Church clinics and health centers. Two mobile clinics operate in the Gash Barka region.

Since 2001, Caritas has provided supplementary feeding to 25,000 children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. Health clinics tend HIV/AIDS patients.

As a consequence of the war, «more than 60,000 displaced people still live in temporary camps in the country,» Caritas said. «About 35,000 refugees are still awaiting repatriation, after 100,000 reportedly returned from the Sudan by the end of 2003.»

About 65% of Eritrea’s 3.5 million people live below the poverty level; 37% live in extreme poverty.


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