Eritrea and NGOs … No is Just No and there Might Be No Grounds!

Eritrea and NGOs … All the matter is about independency, so this is why Eritrea treats NGOs that way. In addition, some of NGOs have not considered or even recognized the Eritrean people during the independence war. NGOs may need to address this matter of misunderstanding or complicated-understanding wisely to restore the lost confidence and obtain trust from the Eritrean government.

However, the story goes …

The Eritrean government has issued the NGO Administration Proclamation to restrict NGOs presence in the country and to reduce corruption and dependency on resources from international NGOs. However, international NGOs believe the Proclamation imposes difficult conditions to limit their presence. Meanwhile, EU called for allocation for NGOs to reinforce food security in Eritrea.

Eritrea has said to welcome the assistance of international NGOs as long as their presence in the country does not threaten or weaken Eritrea's capacity to develop the independent state. However, according to conditions in the Proclamation, International NGOs had to deposit US$2 million in Eritrean banks and local NGOs US$1 million. Non-local NGOs were able to register.

However, National NGOs such as the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students and the National Union of Eritrean Women have visible strong roles in the country. Since they are active arms of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) they take revolutionary responsibilities to be more independent practicing the same traditions they come with from the liberation field.

UNHCR in Eritrea said the Eritrean government clamped down on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in 2005 by withdrawing tax exemptions and increasing registration requirements.

The new NGO law threatened existence of civil society, the International Center for Non-fo-Profit Law (ICNL) said. Another international organisation operating in Eritrea said "If the new proclamation results in the closing down of the few independent local NGOs as well, starvation threats will rise to top." In addition, the global civil society group CIVICUS has expressed deep concern about the Proclamation.

Eritrean government began to deal sharp with NGOs earlier in 1992, when the authorities confiscated an extremely beautiful SOS children's village in Asmara, accusing the administration of corruption and then changing the place to be a residence for the ministry of Labour. Following this act, several key Western NGOs withdrew in 1998.

OXFAM International withdrew its operational presence in the country. Eritrean Government demanded NGOs to work with the state Relief Agency on 29 March 1999.

On 2004, many NGOs expressed concerns that the restrictions would prevent them from continuing their work in Eritrea.

On 1 June 2005, the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) issued Proclamation 145/2005 outlining the administration of NGOs in Eritrea, the Red Sea Paradise. According to this NGO Proclamation, UN agencies are not allowed to channel funding through NGOs in Eritrea. Therefore, NGOs will not function.

On July 2005, the number of NGOs working in Eritrea has decreased from 37 to 13. Eritrea, the Red Sea Paradise is one of the world's most food aid dependent countries.

On 2006, the Eritrean government expelled six Italian aid NGOs and confiscated their equipment and supplies.

On 22 March 2006, Eritrea expelled at least three aid agencies and one local NGO stopped operations despite the fact that the country which has a comparatively small society was about to gripe a serious draught.

On 1 November 2006, International Rescue Committee's Eritrea program received notice of expulsion from the government of Eritrea. The Minister Of Labour and Human Welfare, Ms. Askalu Menkerios, informed the IRC in a letter that due to the recent signing of a Northeast Sudan Peace Agreement, IRC's operating and work permits will be invalid as of November 15.

On November 5, 2006, the Eritrean government ordered two more (NGOs) to leave Eritrea. International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Samaritans' pursue efforts to get through and be present in the country to help returned refugees.

Eritrea as well known country located on one of the driest parts in Africa, has long struggle with a devastating crisis caused by chronic drought and the long war with Ethiopia prior to 1991 and the last war after independence in 1997.

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