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Eritrea's coordinated and pragmatic strategy to fight COVID-19

Eritrea's coordinated and pragmatic strategy to fight COVID-19

By Kidane Eyob

Thanks to God and to the selfless Eritrean health service professionals as well as the firm leadership of the Government of Eritrea (GoE), all 39 patients have now made full recovery and have all been discharged from the hospital that was designated to accommodate COVID19 patients. Yes, as part of the strategy to fight COVID-19, the GoE designated an entire hospital in Asmara.

78 other quarantine centres were also designated in all strategic locations nationwide to accommodate those entering the country by land from neighbouring countries. Total number of those that were under quarantine in these centres were 3486, of these 2400 have tested negative and were subsequently discharged. Currently, there are about 1000 people in 33 quarantine locations nationwide.

The accommodation and medical treatment expenses were offered by the GoE free of charge. Eritrea has not recorded any new cases for several weeks.

Eritrea acquired the latest COVID-19 testing equipment and started to test all passengers on arrival at the airport weeks before lockdown was implemented on 21/04/2020. Eritrea has been under lockdown for several weeks now, which has largely been heeded to, and accounted for the ability to contain the virus. Flights were suspended on 25th March without hesitation and all passengers that arrived before flights were suspended were quarantined in the designated hospital.

The GoE issued several brief, clear and concise guidelines to implement the lockdown and promote social distancing and hand washing practices. In addition, almost all Eritrean artists inside the country and abroad produced educational and entertaining musical dramas, songs and video messages to promote the lockdown, social distancing and encourage the public to adhere to the guidelines. 

People involved in several major developmental infrastructure projects and agricultural tasks were exempted from this lockdown as Eritrea is determined not to be taken hostage by COVID-19. 

Several diplomats residing in Asmara and other individuals have on several occasions expressed their delight and surprise via social media, in the way the Eritrean people complied with the lockdown and social distancing guidelines in a disciplined and civilised manner. 

Once again, Eritreans round the globe rose to the challenge in support of their people and government, this time to fight COVID-19 in unison. If there are any people in this world that have plenty of experience in putting their differences aside and getting united for a common cause, then Eritreans come on the top of the list.

Nationals living at home and abroad have made significant monetary and material contributions, landlords have waivered rents for months and government has differed utility bills indefinitely. Even the children of the patriotic Eritrean parents in diaspora have contributed their pocket money to fight COVID-19 in Eritrea, many of them supported with recorded video messages in a bid to encourage others to do so. 

Nearly 30 years after independence, the unity of the Eritrean people inside Eritrea and in diaspora is as strong as ever and their unanimous financial and material support to fight COVID19 is a testament to this unity. In this sacred month of May, as Eritreans celebrate their independence, a loud and clear vote of confidence on the GoE was delivered and this shocked the so called ‘experts on Eritrea’ into disbelief and humiliation.

Either by coincidence or by divine intervention, just as the armed struggle for independence took 30 years, it has taken Eritreans 30 years to survive as a viable nation in a volatile region and against all the odds, conspiracies and declared and undeclared sanctions thanks to the unity of the Eritrean people inside the country and abroad. Special thanks and recognition also goes to the selfless and gallant Eritrean armed forces and the firm, principled and visionary leadership of the GoE. 

As we start to celebrate Eritrea’s 29th year independence on 24th of May, we acknowledge that for centuries, Eritreans of 9 different ethnic groups and various beliefs have lived together in harmony. However, this harmonious coexistence and mutual respect of this civilised people was first targeted by the British during the British Military Administration (1942 to 52) when their policy of divide and rule was implemented dividing Eritreans along religious, ethnic and geographical lines. 

Ten years after the British looted Eritrea’s infrastructure built by Italians over 50 years, they conspired with the US to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia against the wishes of the Eritrean people. The Ethiopian emperor pursued a more aggressive and divisive policy than that of the British in order to weaken the unity and cohesion of the Eritrean people and tried to sabotage the birth of an independent Eritrea in the Horn of Africa, albeit they failed miserably.

In spite of decades of foreign intervention and their divisive policies, in the early 1950s Eritreans were united in a common cause, independence for Eritrea. In their wisdom, the early Eritrean leaders/elders of the peaceful resistance against Ethiopia’s violation and aggression decided to put their religious, ethnic and ideological differences aside and put the national interest first in order to pursue the peaceful struggle for their right to self-determination in unison.

Ten years of peaceful struggle in 1950s failed to bring the desired freedom, justice and the promotion of Human Rights so in September 1961, Eritreans had no choice but to pursue military struggle to achieve their independence by force. 

Although this military struggle was initiated by a small group, Eritreans of all ethnic groups and beliefs were united in a common objective, to pursue a military struggle for independence in unison. Soon, Eritrean young men and women from all walks of life and from as far as the Middle East, Europe and North America abandoned their education, professional jobs, livelihood and their families to join the armed struggle for independence. 

During the armed struggle, the EPLF effectively and consistently implemented the policy of ‘unity in diversity’ to ensure the active participation of women who comprise about 50% of the population and the ethnic groups who used to be marginalised by Haileselase’s regime. As a result, over 30% of EPLF fighters were women and all nine nationalities took active participation in the armed struggle for independence such that just before independence, the EPLF fighting force grew to almost 110,000 fighters. This unity in diversity of the freedom fighters and that of the people is therefore, what gave the EPLF the strength to win battles and the war for independence. Indeed, the Eritrean people were not disappointed because the EPLF delivered what was promised, independence on 24th of May 1991. To give this independence a legal conclusion, the EPLF created a conducive platform for a referendum to be conducted under the supervision of the UN and credible witness in which the 99.8 % of the Eritrean population chose independence.

After independence, Eritrea asserted its pragmatic political, economic and social policies and steadily began to develop with impressive economic growth records until this trend was suddenly sabotaged in May 1998 when the TPLF regime declared war on Eritrea under the pretext of a border dispute. This war was yet another sabotage that was definitely not engineered by the TPLF regime. Repeated efforts to foil Eritrea’s independence both politically and economically failed miserably and humiliated those who engineered and plotted these conspiracies.

In spite of the war and the ‘no war and no peace’ climate that dragged on for 20 years, the GoE pursued a policy of unity in diversity in its efforts to promote social justice through equitable distribution of wealth and the promotion of equal opportunities as well as by providing basic social services, such as free education, free health care, potable water, transport, electricity all over the country. Unlike most other countries in Africa, holistic developments, opportunities and provision of basic social services in Eritrea are not limited to the privileged few in the urban areas.

Roughly, about 80% of the population live in rural areas this significant proportion of the population used to be deprived of opportunities and basic social services before independence and that is why the GoE rightly put rural holistic development as its top priority.

The National Service and Sawa have since 1994 reinforced the unity of the youth by acting as a melting pot and a mould that forges generations of youth to become united, confident, capable, industrious and disciplined. The National Service played a pivotal role in safeguarding the sovereignty as well as implementing rural developmental projects by constructing vital infrastructures required by various social services. The provision of these vital social services all over the country further ensured the promotion of equal opportunities and social justice that strengthened the unity of the people.

In the last 20 years, the Eritrean government, managed to skilfully and successfully overcome the declared and undeclared sanctions, diplomatic isolation and the conspiracies aimed at reversing Eritrea’s independence by carrying out a regime change but the GoE beat the TPLF at their own game and declared ‘Game Over’ during the Eritrea’s sacred day, the Martyr’s Day 20th of June 2018. 

Eritrea is now squarely on a plateau, has a full tank and is well engaged into its 5th gear for a long journey to its final destination, to realise its people’s vision and aspirations. Just as the EPLF delivered what was promised, independence on 24th of May 1991, the GoE is set to deliver what was promised before the start of the 1998 'border war', that is, food security, investments, various infrastructural developmental projects and economic emancipation in 2021 so watch the space.

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Eritrea's coordinated and pragmatic strategy to fight COVID-19 Reviewed by Admin on 9:39 PM Rating: 5

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