For two months 300,000 people have been living under siege in the former Danakil by the Eritrean regime that is using the Covid quarantine to settle old accounts. The region is isolated, shops closed, patients out of healthcare facilities, food supplies cut, fishing and sheep farming are banned. Abnormal measures to prevent the spread of the virus. In Africa, according to the African Union, a total of 162,673 confirmed cases and 4,601 people died from the infection. In Eritrea there were only 40 contagions and on May 24, Independence Day, the regime said it had defeated evil. No dancal data are known, yet the grip has not come loose.
In the sights of Isaias Afewerki are the Afar, a minority that lives between the southern coasts of the Red Sea, near Djibouti and facing Yemen, and the Danakil depression , one of the hottest and most inhospitable areas on the planet shared with Ethiopia and rich in minerals not yet exploited. 30-year-old Halima Mohammed died here in the Badda crater area on Sunday. The pregnant woman died of bleeding on Sunday 31 May due to a miscarriage with the fetus, alone and without medical assistance. Many other women and children may have died of starvation and disease in the silence of this area without connections and where only 20% have water and electricity.. Certainly many heads of families have ended up in the infamous Eritrean galleys for trying to feed their families. The complaint started with the #savedankalia social campaign launched by activists from the Rsahro, human rights organization of the Red Sea Region (so the regime renamed Danakil 20 years ago) . The activists, mostly refugees abroad, accused in an interview with Radio France International the regime of carrying out an attempt at ethnic cleansing against a population starved to death and deprived of treatment under the pretext of Covid. The Afar - very poor people who live by fishing on the coast and pastoralism in the interior, where the temperature reaches 55 degrees - as confirmed by the reports of two special UN human rights rapporteurs, are targeted by the army with assaults, rapes and arbitrary arrests for years. Now their legendary resilience is put to the test.
"My people - says Ibrahim Ahmed, spokesman for Rsahro - about 300 thousand people, traditionally living on fishing, sheep farming and exploiting the salt mines transported by camels. For years the government has been hindering the economy and lacking food and medicine, but since April 2 it has sealed the borders with Ethiopia and Djibouti without providing measures for survival. A siege that risks killing many for hunger ».
La lista di violazioni dei diritti umani è dettagliata. Ai primi di aprile i leader delle comunità Afar hanno avvertito le autorità del rischio fame per l’esaurimento delle scorte di cibo. Sono state chiuse le panetterie e a fine mese il governo per tutta risposta ha sbarrato le porte dell’ospedale del porto di Assab e le strutture sanitarie mandando a casa malati e partorienti. Nessuno ha visto guanti e mascherine.
Poi è iniziata la guerra all’approvvigionamento. Le autorità di Assab hanno respinto l’offerta di aiuti alimentari alla popolazione fatta pervenire dai marinai degli Emirati Arabi, cui Asmara ha affittato una base portuale. Quindi hanno arrestato a metà e fine maggio decine di pescatori disperati che hanno preso il mare per sfamare le famiglie sequestrandogli le barche. Di loro non si hanno notizie. Numerosi anche i sequestri di cibo trasportato da Gibuti ed Etiopia dalle carovane dei cammellieri, tutti arrestati. Gli Afar allo stremo chiedono al governo asmarino di togliere l’assedio.