"We knew for months that missionaries were at risk because of the expired residency permits. It is very difficult to work in Eritrea. Everything is under the control of the government,” explained an official from an Italian NGO who has been working in the country since 1972 and asked to remain anonymous because of the tense situation in the country, where fourteen missionaries have been expelled.
The government, he said, “sent official statements two weeks ago to our NGO and to others that work in the country. In theory, we should also be handing over all of our projects to the government,” the official said.
“The government of Asmara, led by Isaias Afworki, has had a policy during recent years of running Westerner humanitarian workers out of the country. Since 2005, according to the ‘Proclamation’ which sent many organizations packing, the NGOs are no longer the ones who carry out projects but rather they are simply donors authorized to monitor. The government is the one that carries them out,” he explained.
“We have been reminded of this by an official communiqué two days ago, according to which we must consign all of our projects to the government,” he said.
Without humanitarian aid, the official warned, “the population will be abandoned. The situation itself is already tragic. The people have a right to only two loaves of bread per day.” Likewise, people are not allowed to leave the country and thus “they don’t realize that another way of life exists and that in order to achieve it only a few things would need to be changed.”