Can you tell us about the main tasks of this branch office?
The primary task of our department is to supervise and coordinate the assistance extended to martyrs’ families by the government in collaboration with other partners. It also monitors community activity to support these families.
So far what activities have been executed to assist those families?
Substantial amount of Government funds goes to assist each the families of fallen heroes. Each family receives Nfa.500 per month. This program is the major task that the government is undertaking in this regard. These families receive money through insurance banks and sometimes through mobile for elder families.
In addition to the regular assistance provided by the government, there are community-based initiatives and programs to support these families. Can you tell us about these programs?
This is the second most important aspect of the entire assistance program. This program was first initiated by Eritrean national residing abroad who decided to donate 1Nfa per day to support the families of fallen heroes.
We then decided to further expand this initiative to include support provided from inside the country thinking that every citizen inside or outside the country has the duty to assist the Government in providing support for these families. This community-based program quickly picked up pace and now we even have some individuals assisting from one to 10 families of fallen heroes.
Before embarking on this program we had initially conducted a research to indentify which families were more in need for such kind of assistance. We found out that most of these families were aged parents, unemployed women or small children. Following the study, the families were categorized into two groups, those who needed temporary assistance to become self-supporting and those who needed continued assistance.
Can you tell us about the general status of these families at present?
According to the study conducted at nation level, about 30,151 are registered as families of martyrs. From these 15,265 were categorized as needed immediate and continuous assistance. Out of these families 8,568 are supported by nationals living abroad and the rest continue to receive support from the Government.
How effective has this community-based initiative been in boosting the government’s efforts in this case?
Nearly 86,058,572 Nakfa from 2004- August 2009 have been donated to Martyrs Trust Fund. Moreover, nationals living inside the country have donated about Nfa 2,167,011 to Fund within this year. More recently About 61,812,735 (61 million) Nakfa have been extended to these families within three months from 7-9 (July-September)
There is also another form of community-based support which is often carried out by focusing on social assistance such helping martyrs’ families with their farming activities and providing with the necessary facilities. Objective is to further develop such kind activities so as to cater to more families that need the help. Since, financial assistance alone cannot be enough sometimes these families need someone to provide moral support and make them feel that they are not alone. In addition to this, we give training to martyrs’ widows like cooking, dressmaking, hairdressing in collaboration with different partners.
Until recently our assistance program had been limited to the families of martyred freedom fighters, but there are also those martyred in safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty. We are supporting some needy families from these families but we have the responsibility to provide support for these families still ahead of us. There is a plan to conduct a research that will start at the end of this year so as to identify which ones need help the most. Then with the collaboration of the community we an outline plans or strategies to alleviate their problems.