Child nutrition "big focus" of UN work in Eritrea

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John Ging. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

The UN is appealing for US$328 million to support its work in Eritrea which addresses issues such as food insecurity, health, infant mortality, access to clean water and improved sanitation.

The appeal was launched in New York on Thursday by senior humanitarian official John Ging, who has recently returned from the country which he described as "quite isolated and off of the media radar screen."

Eritrea, which has a population of roughly 3.5 million, sits at number 179 out of 188 countries on the UN's Human Development Index, which measures indicators such as life expectancy and education.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

Mr Ging told journalists that child nutrition is a "big focus" of the UN's work in Eritrea, where half of all children under five suffer stunting while nearly 40 per cent are generally underweight.

The appeal covers the period through 2021 and follows on from an initial five-year plan with the government that ended this year.

Despite a rocky start for both sides, Mr Ging reported that there has been "very measurable and positive improvements" in the lives of people who depend on UN programmes.

Yet more needs to be done, he stated.

"Now, I don't want to overstate the progress. It is significant because it is on a positive trajectory, but we have a long way to go. As a country, as I said 179 out of 188 on that Human Development Index, we need to speed up and accelerate our efforts in terms of supporting the programming that is being done across the board."

Mr Ging said he visited nutritional feeding centres and health clinics to see first-hand the "good work" that is being done.

Access to clean drinking water, however, remains a huge challenge, he noted.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’12”


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