Eritrea: In a bid to flee renewed fighting, people seek refuge in camps

  • International staff: 22
  • National staff: 54 MSF opened its first mission in Eritrea in April 2000, in response to the growing risk of hunger and renewed conflict between Eritrea and its southern neighbor and former ally, Ethiopia. The mission was originally designed to extend health care to around 50,000 people in six displacement camps in the Debub zone, just south of the capital, Asmara. In May, however, the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia resumed, leading to tens of thousands of casualties on both sides. Eritrean civilians in particular were caught in the cross-fire, and as the front moved further north a refugee stream began flowing both northwest within Eritrea and west into Sudan. In response to the conflict, MSF provided war surgery in the town of Massawa in the north, and medical relief in camps for displaced people (in the May-Habar, Kari-Bossa, Ghinda, Salina, Alba, Obali and Agraa camps). By midsummer, many refugees who had fled to neighboring Sudan had returned to Eritrea, but large numbers of people remained in the camps, unable to return home. MSF continues to work in camps in the Debub zone, the Northern Red Sea zone, and in Gash Barka.