More than 23,000 malnourished children and pregnant/lactating women will receive supplemental food and health education in Eritrea, thanks to a recent $354,373 grant from the US Government. Mercy Corps will administer this program, designed specifically to assist war victims, in coordination with the Eritrean Ministry of Health.
Mercy Corps will distribute a locally-produced enriched cereal to 17 sites, including camps and host family homes housing internally displaced persons. The program also will help refugees and internally displaced persons who have returned to their homes in Debub Zone since a cessation of hostilities agreement was signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia in June. Debub Zone was a major warfront during the May/June 2000 fighting between the countries and suffered massive damage and destruction as a result. It also has been impacted by the drought affecting the entire Horn of Africa.
Mercy Corps Country Director Bill Graham, based in Asmara, Eritrea, will lead the feeding program in the field and coordinate health education seminars for beneficiaries at the food distribution sites. The three-month program, funded by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), began on October 1.
Reflecting the agency's commitment to easing the suffering in the Horn of Africa, earlier this year Mercy Corps used its private funds to offer aid to thousands of displaced Eritrean families as well as Ethiopian families affected by drought by providing:
- Kerosene stoves, fuel cans and a one-month supply of kerosene to 1,500 families and shelter for another 1,000 families in Eritrea.
- 50,000 packets of oral rehydration salts, a life-saving aid for people -- especially small children -- suffering from dehydration in Eritrea.
- Milk powder and wheat flour to feed 3,000 people in Ethiopia for one month.
Mercy Corps periodically has administered humanitarian aid programs in the Horn of Africa since 1984 when more than one million people perished during one of the worst famines of the 20th Century.