Eritrean Profile 1/33- 10/29/94

Eritrean Profile 1/33- 10/29/94

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              E R I T R E A N P R O F I L E D E L E C T R O N I C
                      EDITOR: Abenet Essayas
 Vol. 1 No.33                                     October 29,  1994


Trial of Mengistu & Company

The trial of Mengistu Hailemariam and 72 other senior officials of the former Ethiopian military regime is to begin in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia shortly, correspondent of the Eritrean News Agency reported quoting the Special Public Prosecutor, Ato Girma Waqjira.Vital documents, eye-witness accounts and other evidences have already been gathered.

The trial will proceed in the presence of international observers. Mengistu and some of his close aides will be tried in abstentia. The defendants may face death penalty.

Eritrea, Sudan, UNHCR To Speed Up Return of Refugees from Sudan

Eritrea, Sudan and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) this week issued a joint communiqu outlinig the priority criteria on speeding up the voluntary repatriation of Eritrean refugees from Sudan as soon as possible in accordance with the PROFERI pilot program.

According to the joint communiqu, the repatriation process will get underway with a primary focus on those families that could be rehabilitated by starting agricultural life in the rural parts of Eritrea.

The program will also focus at the moment on those families headed by mothers as well as on the needy ones with a background of both rural and urban life. The return of the refugees shall be voluntary and their place of resettlement according to their free choice, the joint communiqu underlined.

While a returnee can bring his private property within the limits the UNHCR has set for its transport free of charge, he or she may include other types of property on personal payment of duties and taxes that may be levied by the Sudanese government.

The Eritrean government on its part has guaranteed the admission of returnee students into local schools, while the Sudanese government has agreed to deliver the appropriate school documents so as to facilitate the smooth continuation of the education of the refugees upon returning home.

The Program for Refugee Reintegration and Rehabilitation of Resettlement Areas in Eritrea (PROFERI) pilot project aims at voluntary repatriation and resettlement of some 4500 families from Sudan.

Space 2001 to Help Ease Housing Problem

Space 2001 Eritrea, a $4.5 million construction materials factory, was officially inaugurated yesterday by President Isaias Afewerki. President Isaias, accompanied by the Minister of Construction Ato Abraha Asfaha and the Minister of Health and Acting Governor of Asmara Ato Sibhat Ephrem, toured the different sections of the factory. He observed the machines while working and samples of the building materials produced at the factory. Space 2001 Eritrea, which is located behind the Lion Hotel, south of the Denden Camp(Ex-Kagnew Station), produces earth blocks, floor tiles, roof tiles, sanitary fixtures as well as doors, windows and kitchen furniture. According to its General Manager Dr. Mekonen Asmerom, Space 2001 Eritrea has a capacity to construct 600 housing units per year.

Space 2001 Eritrea is a joint venture in vestment in which the Municipality of Asmara, Eritrean Investment & Trading Agency, Mr. Serge V. Taddei from Belgium and MartyrsO Children are the share holders. [Photo : Partial view: production site of Space 2001 Eritrea]

Funds Raised For Rehabilitation Of Ex-fighters

Eritreans living in Italy have contributed more than 3 million birr in support of a project for the rehabilitation of ex-fighters. The sum was raised by Eritreans residing in 13 Italian cities. Similarly, a Swiss resident Eritrean, Selam Mebrahtu, and four of her friends have donated 16,000 birr for Mohammed Amir Ker, an ex-combatant suffering from speaking and hearing disabilities. (see story Profile No. 7) Meanwhile, Eritreans at home, and others living in Ethiopia and Germany as well as benevolent individual German nationals have contributed more than 290 thousand birr towards a reconstruction project in Segeneiti district, Akeleguzai province. The money will be used for the construction of a hospital, a secondary school and a market center.

OSustainability...O and All Thatby Alemseged Tesfai

Some weeks ago, I was asked to deliver a talk in English on a topic I am comfortable with. A friend went over my draft outline and suggested that I might add a few wosrds for effect - words like sustainability, empowerment, good governance ... etc.

OBut I donOt know how to use those words, O IEprotested and explained how far removed from the English language I had been over the past years. OYour audience,O he advised, referring to the type of people I was going to address, Owill be impressed.

So I sat down and wrote the following opening statement:- OThe ideas I am about to discuss will, hopefully, help policy-makers lay the foundations for good governance by opening the gates to sustainable human and material development. At the core of these ideas is the empowerment of civil society and especially women. The ecology and environmental protection are amongst its main driving forces..

I stopped, for I knew that I simply could not make myself read that out loud. OWhy should people,O I thought, Obe forced to use words that do not come naturally to them?

So I shunned my friendOs advice and gave my speech the way I saw fit. No clichs, no high-sounding words - just the plain, everyday English my high- school instructor had taught me. I had no doubts about the effect I had made. When question time came, however, someone raised a hand and asked, OI am interested in the promotion of good governance, civil participation and democratization. How do your proposals help bring this about?

My friend, who was sitting at the other end of the table, gave me a mischievous, triumphant look and smiled. I, of course, did not have a matching reply to the question and so my mind raced back to the opening statement I had torn up and fished the answer out. OAh,O I said haltingly. Oby opening the gates to sustainable human and material development, ensuring popular participation at every level and assuring as equitable a distribution of resources as possible.O Deep inside, I felt repetitive and uncomfortable as I knew I had merely rephrased the question in words not my own. Nevertheless... Another hand shot up. OHow does your thinking handle the gender issue?O OMaybe I was not clear on this earlier, O I retorted. OActually at the core of it all is the empowerment of women...O And I proceeded to cover ground already dealt with. OOne last question. What is the attitude of your policy suggestions towards the ecology?

OPositive. I did not pause for words this time. On the contrary, I got a little carried away. OVery positive. In fact, it is clearly and unequivocally environment-friendly.

On our way out, my friend patted me on the back and said, OWelcome to the club. I thought you didnOt know how to use those words.O OHow else, I replied, Ocan this spirit of friendship and cooperation be sustainable!


ONekedem BeluO
by A. E.
What do a monk, a gourmet, a freedom fighter and an author have in common? Not much, you may say. But then you havenOt met Abba (Father) Yissak Ghebreyesus. The 62-year-old academic joined the Capuchins (an order of Fransiscans) at the age of 24 and the EPLF at the age of 43. Perhaps the transition from Franciscan to writer to fighter can best be understood in the context of Abba YissakOs love of his country.

In 1969 from his monastery in Nefasit, Abba Yissak wrote a book called ONeke dem BeluO, which roughly translated means, OPlease dine with meO. The 149-page document is a detailed atlas of Eritrean food, drinks and the homegrown ingredients that are used in its cooking. According to the Abba, there are more than 68 national dishes, 13 kinds of vegetables, 29 different fruits, - unique to Eritrea -17 different types of homemade bread and various spices to be found in the country. The Abba also gives a detailed information on how to prepare each and every dish, drink and spice and convincingly writes that Eritrea is a gourmetOs paradise of natural produce and invention. OIt used to worry me very much to hear people, especially young people, say that Eritrea has no dishes of its own, but only those inherited from its colonisers,O explains the Abba. OI was chief cook in the monastery and I started to research our national dishes.O His pride in the countryOs heritage led him to scorn both the traditions which OrelegatedO cooking to OwomenOs workO and the politics which relegated Eritrea to being the poor cousin of bounteous Ethiopia.

Because this was 1974, things were happening outside the monastery that were to have a profound effect on the young gourmetOs life. Traveling by bus from Segheneti to Asmara, where the official censor of the new regime was based, Abba Yissak was searched by soldiers determined to halt the spread of OinflammatoryO propaganda of the freedom fighters. Seizing the monkOs document of Neke dem Belu, the DergueOs soldiers gazed suspiciously at the Ocryptic messageO it contained. OInjera, shiro, ziggni, salt, peper...O To the soldiers such terms could only be a coded recipe for revolution. Ignoring his protestations of innocence, the soldiers hauled Abba Yissak to prison while official spycatchers worked frantically to decode the message bubbling within Neke dem Belu. Frustrated, they released the suspect and sent him back to his monastery.

On his way back he took with him pamphlets of the EPLF and distributed them all the way to Segheneiti. Ironically the soldiers never searched him again, thinking that a holy man would not sympathise with those who took up arms. In 1975 the word was spread that Abba Yissak was an EPLF messanger and he left Segheneiti to join the field. He couldnOt take his precious Neke dem Belu document with him but came back for it two years later after the EPLF liberated Segheneiti. But seeing the famine and devastation widespread in his country, he decided that the time was not right for a celebration of national food. Nevertheless believing what was written could be put into use after independence, he once more started working on his book.

In 1979 disaster struck - the document went missing. While its loss did not cause a major strategic upheaval within the ranks of the EPLF, it was a devastating blow to the Abba - who by this time had written six other books on EritreaOs customs, ancient monuments and history, as well as translating Italian works on these subjects. Despite launching a succesful line in beles (cactus fruit) jam and tomato sauce from a makeshift factory in Durfo, Wina and Nakfa, his heart often was on his lost, culinary work. It was not until 1984 that he was reunited with his manuscript, which was found in the dusty depths of the Logistics Office of the EPLF, five years later and several miles away from where he was stationed. Seizing it triumphantly he took it home to amend and edit, adding from the copious notes he had made in the field. Although fried snake and boj-boj , ad hoc features of the fighter menu, do not feature as traditional foods in his newly-published book, swa and Imchek have not been forgotten in Abba YissakOs Neke dem Belu. Further feasts are yours to discover - and hopefully it wonOt be long beforeONeke dem BeluO is translated into English so that foreign guests can see that there is more to Eritrea than injera, shiro and ziggni.

Economic History
Reconstruction of Eritrean Railways
by Omar Aim Omar (Saudi Arabia)

I would like to add some thoughts to what Dr. Araia Tseggai wrote (Eritrea Profile, May 21) because, based on my ten yearsO experience working with Eritrean Railways, I believe rebuilding the railway is the best way to rebuild the nationOs infrastructure. The railway alone can help to implement other development plans to serve the national economy.

What should a masterplan for the future railways aim for? It should aim to provide a nationwide network to transport goods and a comfortable passenger service at an affordable price. This should be a low-cost alternative to road transport with its tangible costs of road building and hidden costs of environmental pollution.

1. But as Eritrea plans the rebuilding of its railway, railway administrators need to consider whether there is popular support for such a project. Prior to the war the railway was central to local business activity. People travelled from their villages to the nearest station to sell their agricultural products and handicrafts. Moreover, the railway employed many people and numerous families were supported by railway paychecks. In addition to the creation of new jobs needed to run the rebuilt railway, many other unskilled and skilled individuals will find work in building the railway itself.The government ran the railway capably in the past and can be ex-pected to do so again.

2. Is rail transport the best choice in support of rebuilding the nation? Yes, because it is safe, fast, direct and can carry heavy loads long distances, from seaports to inland towns, at the lowest price per kilometer.

3. What will it cost and who will pay for it? Rebuilding the railway is a multimillion dollar, long-term project. For rolling stock, Eritrea needs (by my best estimate) 10 mainline locomotives, a shunting locomotive, 150 freight cars and 20 passenger cars. For track, 350 kilometers between Massawa and Bisha needs to be upgraded. Rubble and debris needs to be cleared from tracks and tunnels, and bridges and stations need to be renovated.

The task of rebuilding is an enormous one. The costs will be high and it will take time. But it needs to be done if there is to be any hope of regenerating the economy. [Photo : The Railway being revived by EritreaOs workers]

More Thoughts On Macro-Economic Policy
by Petros Tesfaghiorghis

On September 17 I attended a talk on macroeconomic policy by Ato Berhane Abrehe, director of International Cooperation and Macroeconomics at the Office of the President, and Ato Gebreselassie Yosef, director of Aid and Development at the Finance and Development Ministry. I was doing on-the-spot translation for Mr. Abdurahman Babu, a former cabinet minister of Tanzania and an active supporter of the Eritrean struggle. Mr. Babu used his worldwide reputation to promote the case of Eritrea abroad. His first article in the London-based magazine, OAfrica EventsO, was called, O The Present Situation of Eritrea is a Remote Future of other African countries.O It was remarkable for its content and linkage to other struggles in Africa, such as in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola. This article captured the imagination of many African scholars, some of whom shifted their allegiance overnight to support Eritrea. Others reconsidered their blind support of Ethiopia and the mythical legacy of the Lion of Judah which gave rise to Rastafarianism, a belief common among West Indian black people and Afro-Americans who used it to shape an identity for themselves.

When the talk was over BabuOs comment was, OBut this macroeconomic policy is identical to the IMFOs prescription for Africa - an export-oriented economy, denationalization of state-owned industries, trimming of the civil service etc.

Later we were joined by other friends and we debated about development and the IMF. We decided that unlike in many other Third World countries, the Eritrean officials responsible for drafting policy had done their homework and had taken into consideration the reality of EritreaOs socio-economic situation and of the contemporary world. To the satisfaction of the IMF, the resulting policy was identical to the FundOs prescription for Africa. If the policy is properly implemented, which is not perhaps the case in many developing countries, it is believed that it will help the Eritrean economy take off. BabuOs second comment was, OWhat about food security?

I admit that neither Ato Berhane nor Ato Gebreselassie spoke much about this. However, in practice what the government is doing to help the farmers become food self-sufficient is exemplary. It has allocated substantial amounts of money for the development of rural areas. The Ministry of Agriculture has built dams and terraces, it has distributed seeds and farm implements to the peasants. The rural development carried out by the government also covers the building of roads, health clinics and schools to bring about broad-based, coordinated growth.

In my opinion the best policies of the government are those that give priority to rural areas. The nationwide drive for reafforestation, the summer work programme for students and the involvement of the youth through national service constitute a form of mobilization usually witnessed only during war time.

However after Babu left certain questions began to crop up in my mind. I would like to share them with readers of Eritrea Profile for broader debate. In Eritrea about 80% of the population consists of small farmers, nomads and herdsmen. They are still dependent on subsistence agriculture which uses traditional methods of production and organisation characterised by economic stagnation and chronic poverty. When the national infrastructure has been completed, these peasants may be caught in a web of competition for which they are ill-equipped. Can they survive in the face of modern agro-industrialists with their sophisticated machinery and knowhow?

I believe that the interests of small farmers are best served when they are helped to adopt modern methods of farming. But this cannot be done on an individual basis. No small farmer can afford to buy tractors, fertilizers etc. They would be better off in voluntary cooperatives organised on the basis of marketing and production. Then they can be in position to bargain for better prices and, backed by their coops, gain more access to credit and storage facilties (which are underdeveloped in Eritrea). Of course they will have to be profitable and not depend on government subsidies to survive. If they are successful these coops could contribute to community efforts to build urgently-needed rural infrastructure such as water lines, health centres, schools and even houses. These self-help measures, suitably encouraged and supplemented by the government, can bring about the decentralized development needed in the rural centres.

This development strategy for the rural populations of Eritrea would serve as a guarantee against their being bypassed by the economic development that the nation hopes for. It would therefore ensure that they donOt become politically marginalised. But can this be done within a market economy? Does it contradict the macroeconomic policy of our government?

Regard to Data
by Daniel Mebrahtu
The Economist Intelligence Unit, a London-based research, publishing and advisory firm, noted in its 1993-94 Country Profile that in Eritrea data of all kinds are extremely scarce and are likely to remain so for several years to come.

Whether the scarcity will continue for long remains to be seen in the future but it is true that data are extremely scarce at the moment. When we read reports on Eritrea, compiled by local, regional and international institutions, they either rely on data collected decades ago or rough estimates made by institutions based outside the country. Even those gathered during the Derg era are neither reliable nor comprehensive. This has prevented us from giving accurate figures on population size, life expectancy, infant mortality, birth and death rates, illiteracy, per capita income etc. In an effort to create a Central Data Bank, the Eritrean Information Systems Agency (EISA) was set up in March 1994. EISA has 80 IBM -compatible computers on its network. With five professionals and 70 operators, EISA is currently compiling data on citizenship and martyrsO families. EISA has already organised, in cooperation with the UN Development Programme, basic data regarding government employees.

However the task of gathering data of all kinds is so huge that all government offices must do their share to help fill the information gaps that exist. The Municipality of Asmara has taken the lead in this. When the Ministry of Education deployed high school students for summer work, the Municipality used the opportunity to carry out its long-planned project of a population census. An all-woman contingent of 537 high schoolers was involved in a citywide, house-to-house census. During the two month campaign in July and August, the students registered 57,498 AsmaraOs families or 274,318 households. OThis is more than half the expected population of Asmara,O said the regional affairs officer of the Municipality, Ato Abdela Kelifa. O The remaining inhabitants are being registered by the local administrations of the city.O The project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

As the form prepared for the population census indicated, in the fall of 1995 the Municipality of Asmara will not only be able to know the exact number of people in the city, but also who they are. OIt will be easy to classify AsmaraOs residents according to their age,Esex, religion, nationality, citizenship, marital status, academic status, profession and income,O said Ato Abdela confidently.

What about the rest? When will facts replace estimations? Will the scarcity of data continue for several years to come? As far as this writer is concerned it all depends on the willingness of local administrations and government offices. Two opportunities seem to be available: the Ministry of Education declaring the continuity of the summer work programs, in which students can participate in data collecting , and the Eritrean Information System Agency preparing to offer consultation and training services to help clients compile data on their own.

For More Effective Work
Compiled by Kiflom Adgoi

Dr. Nerayo Teklemichael, head of the Eritrean Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (ERRA), this week gave briefings to local journalists and representatives of international and indigenous non-governmental organizations on the operational methods governing future NGO activities in Eritrea and the work of the Agency itself in line with the proclamation recently issued by the government. Excerpts of Dr. NerayoOs briefings to local journalists follow:- After having noted the important contribution made by NGOs in the past, Dr. Nerayo referred to the need for a supervising body i.e, ERRA, in order to facilitate the smooth operation of the activities of international and local non-governmental organizations. He said that the proclamation provides the legal framework on the basis of which specified local and foreign NGOs will be permitted to work in the country and the possible measures to be taken for default. Dr. Nerayo stated that, henceforth, NGO activities will be confined to relief and rehabilitation work.

He further explained that the proclamation is mainly designed to make NGOs, be they international or local, realize that ERRA is there to supervise their work. According to the proclamation, the NGOs are expected to present an annual report about their work, including a yearly financial report that will decide whether or not they are allowed to have their work permit renewed. According to Dr. Nerayo , supervising the work of NGOs is important because NGOsO activites anywhere, without outside control might create a situation where the inhabitants of a certain village or province secure relief aid while those in other localities get none. In another instance, Dr. Nerayo said it is naive to believe that NGOs always carry out their activities with integrity. Some may have a hidden agenda and engage in activities which the government and the people do not want. As such, it is but proper to guard against possible negative consequences and see to it that NGOs distribute relief aid and carry out their work in general on the basis of programs worked out by the government such as the food-for-work and cash-for-work programs. Dr. Nerayo pointed out that in some countries NGOs perform tasks which, under normal circumstances, should be undertaken by national governments like the implementation of health, educational, agricultural and other projects. OFor the work of NGOs to be effective and meaningfulO, the ERRA head explained, Oit is vital to ensure that they conduct their activities within the framework of the supervision of governments.

In connection with a question that was raised regarding the pay of persons employed by NGOs as mentioned in the proclamation, Dr. Nerayo referred to the visible gap that exists between state employees and that of the NGOs. He noted that in some cases the disparity in pay between the two is twice or threefold, giving rise to a situation where a number of state employ ees leave government departments for employment in the NGOs. OIn recognition of the problemO, said Dr. Nerayo, Othe government is undertaking studies towards effecting equitable pay for civil servants that would more or less match that of people employed by the NGOs.

In conclusion, the ERRA head emphasized the need for all those involved in relief and rehabilitation work to carry out their activities in a spirit of mutual understanding and closer coopertion.O It is vitally important that intent is matched by concrete actionO, he underlined.

Towards Boost In Anglo - Eritrean Trade
by Asfeha Semere
Just a few weeks after the new Eritrean Investment code was issued, Asmara has already become busy receiving business missions from abroad. Last week, the first Saudi businessmen were in Eritrea in an assessment mission for investment opportunities in the country.

Similarly, this week, the first British Trade mission from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry arrived looking forward to creating contacts with the Eritrean business community and strengthening the recently established relationship with the Asmara Chamber of Commerce.

Speaking to local journalists towards the end of their visit, both Mr. David Anderson, leader of the mission, and Mrs. Tracey Jacob, Manager of the mission, expressed their optimismabout the ample investment opporunities available in Eritrea and said emphatically that the mission has already created a very important relationship for mutual benefits.

Following a meeting with different government officials at the Asmara Chamber of Commerce and a briefing by the Managing Director of the Investment Office of Eritrea, Ato Tekie Beyene, the British trade mission quickly made individual contacts with its Eritrean counterpart. The meeting which brought together some 14 British (all suppliers) and about 100 Eritrean businessmen, has made both sides busy exchanging views on how to get a market for their products in each otherOs country.The question here is how can Eritrea make it in a mutual benefit when it is a new country and its imports outweigh its exports? OOThe first thing for you to do,O advises Mr. Anderson, O is to always go meet your customers. You shouldnOt expect importers to come to you. You have to begin to think, Owhat do I have to sell overseasO. It is quite natural for an exporter to take the initiative,O and he believes there is a tremendous market possibility for Eritreans in his country.

OThe British housewife,O he said after looking at various prices of Eritrean products, O would love you if you would get her shoes, sweater at the prices you are offering here. You would really have a market in Britain where a pair of shoes is sold for more than 500 birr ,all you need is invest your time , energy and grip the profits.

Mrs. Jacob, expressing the ChamberOs readiness to advertise and publicize EritreaOs plants and its products in international trade fairs,said, OWe are very happy to take information from you and let our members know, we are there to put people in contacts with one anotherO.But emphasized on the need for self promotion which she believed should be Eritreas present priority. Impressed by the economic framework Eritrea is adopting at the moment, Mr. Anderson, the leader of the mission who at the same time represented the Massey Fergusen group remarked that the adequate steps are already being taken.

OI believe you are doing everything that would make an investor consider Eritrea. You have allowed free movement of foreign exchange,your banking sector is open for foreign investors...etc..... Referring to the wonderful sites Eritrea has in addition to its economic importance as a gateway for the Horn of Africa, Mr. Anderson said that he sees a tremendous opportunity for tourism here. The economic liberalism with an eventual target to make EritreaOAfricaOs SingaporeO is a point in EritreaOs favour, they all said.


United Nations Day has become a universally recognized time for celebration and reflection on the state of the international community. Today we all live in a global context. Societies which once felt able to stand alone, now see themselves interlocked with others. The great goals of peace, development and democracy increasingly are understood to require greater multilateral efforts.

Without peace, nothing is possible. Without development, societies cannot look forward to the future. Without democracy, progress will not rest securely on a foundation of popular participation and commitment.

In the coming years, the United Nations calls upon the peoples and governments of the world to take charge of the development effort. This year, we shall review progress on the agreements reached at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. We shall also continue to implement the decisions reached at the World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in 1993.

At the World Summit for Social Development, to be held in Copenhagen in 1995, we meet to find solutions to the development crisis faced by all nations - rich and poor. At the next International Conference on Women, to be held in Beijing in September 1995, we meet to discuss the special role of women in development.

This year, as we prepare for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations, let us recall the opening words of the Charter: OWe the Peoples of the United Nations...O We... all of us... are the United Nations. The United Nations is now, and increasingly will be, what we choose to make of it.

Knowledge about the United Nations is thus ever more important for people everywhere. With the active commitment of people, the United Nations can continue to play its unique role for peace and security, social and economic progress, and global human development.

Let this Day be the starting point for taking your United Nations on the road to the future.

Eritrea Participates In Intl. Symposium
Eritrea has participated at a recent UN International Symposium on Trade Efficiency (UNISTE) in which Heads of state and ministers from 65 countries took part. UNISTE discussed ways and means at a meeting held in Ohio, USA in which international trade can attain efficiency by the year 2000.

Speaking at a press conference on return home from the symposium on Tuesday, Trade and Industry Minister Ogbe Abraha said that one of the agenda was improving information systems with a view to promoting the benefits of medium and small enterprises. Ato Ogbe further pointed out that the governmentOs policy is to make Eritrea a center for trade and services. In this connection, the minister disclosed that a paper was presented at the symposium outlining EritreaOs policy in this regard.

_____________________________________________________________________>br> New Ambassadors To Eritrea

The new ambassadors, of Belgium and Japan, have presented their credentials on Thursday to President Isaias Afewerki. During his meeting with H.E. Alain Genot of Belgium, President Isaias recalled Belgian assistance in the production of medicine during the armed struggle and its cooperation in housing construction after independence. During talks with the new Japanese ambassador, HE Yasuhiro Hamada, President Isaias said that the Eritrean government attaches great importance to promoting close relations between the two countries. Mr. Hamada on his part expressed Japans appreciation to EritreaOs efforts to build a constitutional order, its formulation of a clear economic policy and its efforts to promote regional peace. The ambassador further affirmed JapanOs readiness to assist EritreaOs reconstruction and development programs.

Training for Street Children Underway

The Social Affairs Authority (SAA) and the Dahlak Shoe Factory are to provide technical training for about 30 street children as part of an on-going SAA initiative to promote the skills of Eritrean youth. The six-month training will enable the participants to learn the skill of shoe-making and leatherwork techniques. The SAA plans to organize similar projects in Massawa and Assab. Meanwhile, the SAA Rehabilitation Section is helping some 50 war-disabled veterans at Mai Habar to learn skills.

Asmara International Community School Opens
The Asmara International community School (AICS) was officially opened on October 24, with annual tuition fee which is $5000 on the occasion of the United Nations day.

The AICS, temporarily located at Asmara Expo compound, has admitted a total of 7 students in Grade 1 and 2 as well as 4 and 5 taught by three teachers. The tuition is not high in comparison to similar schools said its Administrator, Mrs. Jennifer Elton. The school is not supported by any organization, she added.

According to a police report, some 150 Eritrean youth, who illegally attempted to cross the Red Sea by boat on October 17, had a storm accident in a nearby island in northern Dankalia. The report said the victims had to stay at the island without food for a week until they were helped into the coastline by other boat owners. Each of them had paid 700 birr to the boat owner. The police have warned boat owners who involve themselves in such illegal transportation.

Whirling Pope Joan
Heard a hurdy-gurdy lately? If the answer is no then you should get down to the Odeon Cinema on November 6 or 7 at 7.30 pm, for an evening of traditional European folk music and dance - with a difference. In a concert organised by the British Council, Nigel Eaton and Julie Murphy, who together form the UK- based group OWhirling Pope JoanO, are set to take you on a wide-ranging tour across the octaves and the centuries. A hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument, rather like a bulbous guitar, which dates back to the 10th century. ItOs dramatic, mellow tone lends itself to the rythms both of modern pop and traditional melodies. Together with the voice of Julie Murphy, NigelOs hurdy will bring the folk songs of Wales, England and Brittany to life in a hypnotic performance which has received rave reviews in Pakistan, Brazil, the US and Europe. Following their two shows at the Odeon, Nigel and Julie will be giving a free performance at Denden camp and holding workshops for Eritrean musicians. Then itOs off to Massawa on the 9th for another free show in the ruins of the former governorOs palace. Tickets for the Odeon concerts are just 10 (yes, ten) birr each - so thereOs no excuse for missing out on the hurdy-gurdy rag.


I read Ayne-alem MarcosO OWhat's Going On?O (Profile, Oct.15). Eventhough he wanted an explanation channelled from the concerned departments, I feel like writing on his article.

I found Mr. MarcosO piece untimely because the subject had started more than 4 months ago and the American Embassy had issued explanation at that time. Second it was hypocritical; for it is obvious that Eritrea is inundated with unemployment increasing astronomically each year.

With regard to educated young men, I don't think Mr. Marcos has ever heard or seen that there are still educated young men racing after offices in search of jobs. It was also a piece of writing based on fallacy for the OGreen Card LotteryO can not be held responsible for office workers not concentrating on their jobs but the administration or head of that office can. Finally, I argue that Mr MarcosO article tends to violate individual rights (of movement from place to place and of choice where to live) in the name of National Reconstruction in which the lucky people could take part even while they are in the USA. Allen Gavin Asmara

In OWhats going on?O by Ayne-alem Marcos, referring to Eritreans who intend to migrate to the USA, he divided them by saying OThe educated and The uneducatedO and he is more concerned only about the young educated professionals because he claimed that they are irreplaceable. In my opinion his use of words to distinguish the educated and the uneducated is unhelpful and to some extent may offend many Eritreans who never had a chance to get the basic necessity of education due to the economic system and colonial oppression.

He should be concerned about all the people who are trying to migrate from Eritrea. At the present situation Eritrea needs manpower and technological know-how in particular. Regarding to education if it was properly organized, it will be a continous one that will not commence and finish at a given age, but rather will be recognized as a never-ceasing quest for individual improvement throughout oneOs lives. All healthy idividuals will be able to satisfy their desire for knowledge unhampered by economic restrictions or barriers. I am sure all the would-be migrants will contribute more to our new nation according to their abilities; and there shouldnOt be higher and lower class in our society. Except for the inappropriate words, which have been used to describe the would-be migrants, I quite agree in general that the brain- drain by means of neo-colonialism has very damaging effect and still does exist in many African countries.

This brain-drain syndrome is common in Africa. According to the black weekly newspaper (Voice) , between 1985 and 1990, Africa lost 60,000 middle and highly qualified technicians to Europe and the U.S.A. Whose fault is it anyway? Michael Ghebre London

Ayna-alem Marcos touched a sensitive chord when he raised legitimate queries regarding the US Visa Lottery Programme. I find the response of the US Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Christopher Data, failing on many counts.Let me get one thing straight first. The controversy is not on the publicity aspect of the programme. The issue is not whether the extent to which the programmes was widely advertised to enable prospective candidates throughout the country to access the OopportunityO. That would be missing the whole point.

For those of us who harbour serious misgivings about the wisdom of the whole exercise, the disturbing and unanswered question remains its corrosive effect in draining scarce skilled manpower.Mr. Datta maintains that the programme is not intentionally designed to attract skilled manpower since Oqualified visa applicants are chosen at randomO. I find this argument extremely tenuous. Indeed, strict conditionalities that require applicants to have Oat least high school level academic background or a minimum of two years experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training Ohave effectively erased the randomness of the lottery. In the case of Eritrea, with a literacy rate of about 20%, the OopportunityO is being offered to the better off 5% or so.

Winners of the lottery are merely promised, after they pay their way to the US, a green card to complete in the tough job market there. Indeed, as one pores over the literature on the subject (the city was awash with these forms last May), one finds little indication of State support to those who might seek higher education. So in all probability, most of the lucky lottery winners will end up doing menial jobs in petrol stations or drug stores. I should perhaps acknowledge that there will be some benefits that accrue to the Sending State in terms of remittances and individual gains to the winners concerned as they stand better chances of social mobility even with such a low start. But the new effect will remain negative to the country and society that may have spent considerable resources for their education.Mr. Datta explains that the programme was conceived in an effort to increase the cultural diversity of immigrants in the U.S. and, perhaps more relevant to us here, to provide for more people from Africa to go to America. But while one can appreciate the apparent goodwill of the U.S. Government, one wonders whether these benign intentions are not being compromised by a serious flaw in the programmeOs application. I, for one, believe that the whole question of eligibility should be seriously revised and reversed so as to give priority and access to the disadvantages only: i.e. to the uneducated, unemployed and I dare say, unemployable here to give them a chance to strike their luck in the land of plenty. Tesfay Berhane, Asmara

Patricia S. Kuntz                                Internet:
African Studies Program - Outreach                      Bitnet: kuntz@wiscmacc
1454 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Dr.                      Voice: (608) 263-2171
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI  53706-1557  USA                               FAX: (608) 265-5851

Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 07 Nov 94 14:17 CDT
From: patricia s kuntz 
Subject: FYI (Eritrea-L) is on-line with a news feed from Asmara!
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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