Eritrean economy untouched by UN sanctions


Eritrea said that its economy will be unaffected by the UN sanctions imposed on the nation, which were an international response to Asmara’s alleged support of Islamist rebel groups in Somalia.

Punitive measures including an arms embargo, travel restrictions and asset freezes for some of the country’s top officials raised fears the limitations may slow an economy reliant on financial and moral support from the diaspora.

Remittances from Europe, the United States, the Middle East and other African nations are Eritrea’s biggest source of foreign exchange. Analysts say they continue to flow because high-ranking Eritreans travel to other countries and drum up support for the Red Sea state.

Eritrea has dismissed concerns saying sanctions would not slow development.
“The sanctions should not have any impact on investment, no impact on trade, or Eritrea’s external ties with its economic partners,” Yemane Ghebremeskel, director of the Eritrean president’s office, told Reuters in an interview.
“Our development strategy is not really based on injections of development assistance anyway. There are still extensive development plans in place designed to enhance productivity and expand services in education and health,” he said.

The country would build more than 50 new schools this year, he said.

The UN imposed sanctions last month because Security Council members say Eritrea has given support to Islamist insurgents in Somalia who are battling the UN-backed transitional government. Violence in the Horn of Africa nation has killed at least 19 000 people since the start of 2007.
‘It’s wedding season’

Yemane said average Eritreans were disappointed in the United Nations over the
sanctions but they remained fairly indifferent to the measures themselves.
“They know these sanctions have nothing to do with justice or international law.

People don’t give it undue weight it’s January, wedding season, people are getting on with their business and going to parties,” he said.

Yemane reiterated the view of President Isaias Afwerki that the sanctions are baseless and contravene international law.
“Those sanctions are not based on international law. The accusations have not been proved and Eritrea has not been given the opportunity to make its case on an independent platform.”

Last week the President told local media that no solid facts have been produced against Eritrea and no proper legal procedures have been applied to discover the truth.
“In the final analysis, the conspiracy was essentially masterminded by US intelligence agencies, especially the CIA,” the President said.

Eritrea’s economy contracted sharply in 2008 while inflation surged to double digits, according to the International Monetary Fund, but better rains in 2009 could have boosted growth to about 3.5%.