Food shortage, displacements, water and health gaps after a volcano erupted in Eritrea's Nabro region

Thousands of Ethiopians in Afar State are facing critical food, water and health gaps almost a month after a volcano erupted in neighbouring Eritrea's Nabro region, officials say.

The volcano started erupting on 12 June, spewing ash over hundreds of kilometres, affecting food and water sources as well as air travel in some parts. The eruption also caused an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.7, Eritrea's Information Ministry reported in a communiqué.

The adverse impacts of the volcanic ash increased reports of livestock mortality, migration, critical water shortage, human health problems and rising malnutrition among the worst volcanic affected woredas : Bidu, Afdera, Erebti, Elidar, Teru and Kori. In Bidu woreda, deaths of 31 persons were reported as a result of the volcano ash. 48,000 people were affected in the Bidu, Afdera, Erebti and Teru woredas. Another 167,153 people, in the Elidar and Kori woredas, required monitoring, according to an emergency assessment team deployed there in mid-June.

However, Ethiopia's federal government said it did not endorse the Afar regional government appeal and was assessing the situation.The ministry had no record of casualties, adding that it was still too early to say how many people had been affected and needed help.

Residents had been advised not to eat locally produced food in case of contamination. The effects of the eruption had increased the vulnerability of the affected population in the predominantly pastoral region. One of Ethiopia’s largest salt mines in the Afdera area could been contaminated by the volcanic ash. Experts, including from the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute, are going to examine if the salt production in Afdera is contaminated with toxic materials so its consumption and exportation can be halted. (IRIN)


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