Isolated in EritreaHaving fought with most of its neighbours, Eritrea has few friends. It’s 30 year war with Ethiopia finally gained the country its independence in 1992. Colonised by the Italians and British before, Eritrea hasn’t had its own sovereignty for over 100 years and since its last deadly skirmish with Ethiopia in 2000, the country has been trying to find its feet, rebuilding its much needed infrastructure and various state institutions. Offers of help from the West are turned away as the president Isaias Afwerki believes aid does more harm than good.
The presidents view of aid reflects, in the extreme, a growing theory that aid to Africa can cause more problems than it solves. Only a handful of NGO’s are allowed to work there and their scope is extremely limited. The desire for self-reliance is based on more than a century of abuse from successive colonial masters. Afwerki admitted that living in Eritrea is a “struggle” and a “hardship” but claims that “charity does not work”.
Commissioned by Monocle. Published in Internazionale (Italy)