All Africa.com June 22,2011
Addis Ababa — An exiled Eritrean opposition group on Wednesday called on the international community to immediately act to provide urgent assistance to the thousands of Eritreans it said are affected by the Narbo volcano that erupted over a week ago in the country’s south.
The Addis Ababa-based Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) said the volcanic eruption has killed at least seven people, injured many others and displaced thousands of people.
“We call on the international community to swiftly use diplomatic pressure over the Eritrean government to allow an international humanitarian aid to the thousands of volcano-hit people” reached by phone Yasin Mohamed Abdela, RSADO spokesperson told Sudan Tribune from the Ethiopia-Eritrea border.
Independent news about the eruption is hard to come by as Eritrea does not allow independent local journalists or foreign correspondents into the the Red Sea nation.
The RSADO official accused the Eritrean government of hiding the level of the disaster. He said that his party holds the Eritrean government accountable for the loss of life and other related damage caused by the volcanic activity.
“The Eritrean government had the knowledge in advance on the occurrence of the volcanic eruption and evacuated hundreds of its soldiers from the area one day ahead of the eruption however [they did not give] advanced notice to the inhabitants nor did [the government] evacuate them to safety” Yasin said.
The UN or other NGOs are reportedly not allowed to leave the capital, for independent assessments of the situation of the people. Since Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia in 1991 the country has been retiscent to allow a large UN and NGO presence in the country stating that it did want to become dependent on foreign aid.
“The Eritrean government is well known of deliberately blocking access to foreign media coverage in the country to avoid any possible international intervention” Yasin said.
“This is what the latest incident proves – hide the level of the impact, neglect and trade its own people to its odd ties with the international community” he added.
After over a week-long silence, Eritrean state television last night confirmed the causalities after the Red Sea Afar rebels released a statement on their website regarding the deaths and damage the volcano had caused.