With a government that commits horrific human rights abuses against its own people, plays reckless political games in regional affairs, amidst the ongoing spread of COVID-19 pandemic and a country with one of the weakest health systems, Eritrea is currently exposed to unprecedented humanitarian and political crisis. We, the undersigned 95 Eritrean Scholars and Professionals, are writing to share our serious concerns about these issues.
In relation to COVID-19, a diaspora-based organization called Eritrean Healthcare Professionals Network (EHPN) has issued a statement that expressed grave concern over the status of the Eritrean health system and how the country is inadequately prepared for the pandemic. COVID-19 has posed a great challenge even for the most advanced and wealthiest countries let alone for Eritrea where there is no enough running water and with electricity service that’s frequently interrupted. To make matters even worse, the health system has been greatly impacted by a government order that closed Catholic hospitals and clinics in the country forcing significant number of health professionals to migrate to other countries. During this critical time, we Eritreans, wherever we may be, should recognize the important role we can play by making the safety and well-being of all Eritreans a priority and pressuring the government of Eritrea to open all closed hospitals and clinics, to allow NGOs to operate in the country and to stop using this pandemic as an opportunity for political and financial gains. We, Eritreans also have a responsibility to reach out a helping hand to the thousands of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, Sudan, Libya and elsewhere. Furthermore, we call upon the UN and World Health Organization (WHO) to urge Eritrea to comply with the WHO recommended guidelines for minimizing the risk of COVID-19, to open all closed hospitals and clinics and to release all political prisoners and prisoners with minor offenses.