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United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea: Two Countries One Mission


UNMEE Donates To Eritrea's Hearing Impaired   

Founded in 1998, the Eritrean Association for the Deaf (Erinad) is an NGO devoted to improving the lives of people with impaired hearing. It is a member of the Finland-based World Federation for the Deaf, and its key aim is to defend the interests of Eritrea's hearing impaired in the spheres of education, employment, vocational training and leisure. On Friday, 3 June, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Legwaila Joseph Legwaila visited the offices of the Association in downtown Asmara, where he met with Erinad Chairman, Yonatan Gebreher and Manager, Weldezigi Gebrekal to whom he handed a donation from UNMEE to the Association.

There are an estimated 40,000 deaf and hearing-impaired people in Eritrea. The country has two schools, one in Keren and one in Asmara, which provide elementary education to the deaf. However, as Gebrekal pointed out, adults are in dire need of higher levels of education.

Eritrea also needs state-of-the art training in contemporary sign language methodology, with a view to developing a sign language in Tigrinya. "That way," Gebreher explained, "Eritrean people can have a native sign language which suits their own culture and traditions."

Financial support from the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare is limited, hence the association also depends on funding from other sources. It receives contributions from some international NGOs in Eritrea, but these still fall short of funding needs for its projects.

The SRSG said he was pleased to be able to make a contribution of 16,000 Nakfa, which was raised by UNMEE staff. "We are happy that we have been able to give you this token of our assistance," he said, adding "we are a peacekeeping operation, but we try to do a little more than peacekeeping by showing our host country that we are good guests and will try and do whatever little we can, to make a difference."

(Article extracted from http://www.unmeeonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=169&Itemid=85 – March 2008)