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More International NGOs Ordered to Leave Eritrea

Global Insight

November 6, 2006

The Eritrean government has reportedly told two more non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to cease their operations in the Red Sea country, giving them less than two weeks to wind up their businesses. According to Reuters, U.S.-based International Rescue Committee (IRC) and international Christian relief organisation Samaritans' Purse both received letters last week telling them to leave Eritrea this month. Quoting unnamed diplomatic sources, the news agency claimed that the two organisations have effectively been given less than two weeks to leave the country, with the authorities informing them that their operational and work permits, which allow them to operate legally in Eritrea, would not be valid beyond 15 November 2006.

Significance: The ejection of the two NGOs comes on the back of similar expulsions of international NGOs from Eritrea in the past few months, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with the authorities refusing to give any real explanation for their decision (see Eritrea: 24 March 2006: ). Since its independence 15 years ago, Eritrea has enjoyed a somewhat fractious relationship with NGOs and the donor community, which has ranged from cordial to down-right hostile (see Eritrea: 30 August 2005: ). The Asmara government, which has always seen the whole NGO community as a self-serving industry that needs a cause, real or perceived, to justify its existence, has always insisted on setting tough conditions on how and where NGOs can operate within its territory, while promoting self-reliance and dependence to reduce their presence (see Eritrea: 31 May 2005: ).

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