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“To have an anchor of stability in the region is very important for the whole world’s community” says UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Ms. Ursula Mueller about Eritrea.

The United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Ursula Mueller, paid a two-day working visit to Eritrea from 30th September to October 1st. Ms. Mueller’s schedule in her brief sojourn in Eritrea consisted of, among other functions, a series of meetings with the Ministers of Health, Agriculture, National Development, Information, Labor and Human Welfare as well as the President of the National Union of Eritrean Women. Her itinerary also included a field visit in Elabered, Anseba Region. I spoke to her and present you an amplification of her visit to Eritrea in her own words.

•    Please, first brief us on the purpose of your visit and how these past two days have been?

I am honored to be in Eritrea. It is my first visit to the country. I have come here at a particularly dynamic time, now, after the peace process was signed by Eritrea and its neighbor Ethiopia to reestablish and build the partnership between the two governments. The United Nations has listened to the vision the Eritrean leadership has for its country and people and has been supporting it. The UN will accompany the two governments in their path to sustainable development while meeting the needs of the most vulnerable people. I was welcomed by the Minister of Health at the airport and it was a great honor.

•    You correctly refer to the era Eritrea has just embarked as “dynamic”. Let me hear your brief opinion on the dynamics registered as of lately in the horn.

Eritrea has fought for peace and gained it and is working to sustain it. Peace is the foundation for the development of nations and to have an anchor of stability in the region is very important for the whole world’s community, and, particularly, for the people of Eritrea.

•    During your stay you have had several meetings with Eritrean line Minsters and also had a chance to visit and discuss issues with people from different walks of life. How were your discussions and if you may, please, also tell me about the outcome of all the meetings you’ve had.

I came here in a listening mode and a willingness to understand the uniqueness of Eritrea and its people. I was very impressed by the leadership. They know what the people want. And I have sensed the presences of social justice based on equality. On this line, I also met the President of the National Union of Eritrean Women and I was very impressed to learn about the Eritrean history of gender equality and the efforts invested to empower women, recognize their special skills and make them big part of a prosperous society. I also learned about the policy of self-reliance; using the resources that are available and invest on human resources to make an educated and healthy society. The United Nations offered its support and commitment to implement the Eritrean vision. My visit is a continuation of this trusted relation Eritrea and the UN, and particularly OCHA, have kept so far. My purpose was also to better understand the community based policy of self-reliance. My meetings were very constructive, based on that I am confident that we will be able to work together in partnership with mutual trust and respect.

•    How does Eritrea look like through the notes of OCHA in Eritrea? How did you expect Eritrea to be based on reports you’ve had and things you read prior to your arrival?

The OCHA office in Asmara gave me a briefing book and had a chance to familiarize myself with the country before I came. The briefing from OCHA was fantastic because it represented very accurate information. I sensed the good will and the honesty between my OCHA colleagues and the people they work with here in Eritrea.

•    How does the future of OCHA look like to you here in Eritrea?

OCHA coordinates humanitarian assistance on the side of the United Nations. OCHA’s presence in Eritrea will continue as it is. We are very well staffed here. And our staff have managed to successfully build relationships with government representatives. The office has the good will and the skill to collaborate with government offices and more.

•    What was most memorable during your two days trip?

I must say that during my visit to Mohabesh, the community welcomed us with warmth and amongst them two women marked me the most as they were explaining how their association functions.

I looked in their eyes and was impressed as I saw the strength and resilience these women carry inside them. I was impressed by how they are empowered to lead their community; men around them give them space and listen to their advices. I really could witness the notion of social justice based on equality that, I hear, most Eritrean community have made part of their tradition. The Minister of Agriculture explained to me in that place how the Ministry in collaboration with other parties supports families to introduce sustainable farming and ultimately make them productive and self-reliant.

•    Is there anything you would like to say at the end?

I have a wish for this country and its people. My wish is for them to rejoice in the peace they worked so hard for; for them to be able to sustain it for long and for all the ethnic groups to prosper in it and find its way to be part of the international community and enjoy sustainable development.

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