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Last Updated: 18 October 2011

Casualties and Victim Assistance

Casualties Overview

All known casualties by end 2010

5,560 mine/ERW casualties (2,590 killed; 2,970 injured)

Casualties in 2010

42 (2009: 38)

2010 casualties by outcome

6 killed; 36 Injured (2009: 8 killed; 30 injured)

2010 casualties by device type

ERW 23; unidentified mines 19

The Eritrean Demining Authority (EDA) identified 42 mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties in 2010. Children (29 total: 22 boys; seven girls) continued to be the majority of casualties at 69%. Of the 13 adult casualties, three were women.[1] This represented a small increase from the 38 mine/ERW casualties identified by the EDA for 2009 (76% were children), but still significantly fewer than the 64 casualties reported for 2008.[2]

Unexploded submunitions were not differentiated from other types of ERW in casualty data. As such, although none were reported, it is possible that there were casualties from submunitions among the 23 ERW casualties that made up more than half of all casualties in 2010.

The total known number of mine/ERW casualties in Eritrea is 5,560 (2,590 killed; 2,970 injured).[3] The EDA recorded 750 casualties (197 killed; 553 injured) between 2000 and the end of 2010, including 313 from 2005–2010 (77 killed; 236 injured).[4] The 2002–2004 Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) remains the most extensive source of cumulative casualty data, identifying 4,934 mine/ERW casualties (2,436 killed; 2,498 injured) to June 2004.[5] Previous estimates of tens of thousands of mine casualties in Eritrea in total remained unconfirmed.[6] However the LIS data collection was limited to communities that reported mine contamination.[7] Therefore, it is likely that the LIS does not record veterans injured and killed by mines from urban localities.

At least 163 casualties during cluster munition strikes in Eritrea have been reported. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that there were about 160 casualties (approximately 50 killed; 110 injured) during the use of cluster munitions in 1990.[8] At least three casualties during the use of cluster munitions in 2000 were also reported.[9] In addition, incomplete casualty data indicated that at least nine casualties from cluster munitions remnants were reported in Eritrea after the year 2000.[10]

Victim Assistance

At least 2,970 mine/ERW survivors have been reported in Eritrea.[11]

Assessing victim assistance needs

In 2010, the EDA and Ministry of Health, supported by UNICEF, agreed to work towards data sharing through the national database of persons with disabilities being established by the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare (MoLHW).[12] UNDP imported equipment and continued to provide support for establishment of the database and its management. The MoLHW established an information system management unit and assigned technical experts to develop the database. As of early 2011, plans to relocate the MoLHW premises had stalled the completion of the database and it was not yet operational.[13] The plan to create a database of people with disabilities had been underway since the 2002 Survey of People with Disabilities in Eritrea. The database was intended to provide the basis of all future planning and development for all people with disabilities in Eritrea, including mine survivors.[14]

An evaluation of the Ministry of Health Pilot Injury Surveillance System (ISS), supported by UNICEF, was finalized and submitted to the ministry. The key findings and lessons learned are to be used in the national expansion process of the ISS. In preparation to expand the ISS nationally, training on data collection and mass casualty management was provided to health workers from five administrative regions of the country, including refresher training in Maekel where the ISS was piloted. Computers and software of the national ISS were distributed to the five administrative regions.[15]

Victim assistance coordination[16]

Government coordinating body/focal point

MoLHW: Coordination and implementation of services for mine/ERW survivors

Coordinating mechanisms

Technical Working Group on the Mine Action Program (TWG): EDA, UNDP, UNICEF, ICRC, MoLHW


Annual Work Plan for 2010: National Landmine Victim Assistance Project

The MoLHW is responsible for all people with disabilities, including mine survivors.[17] The National Landmine Victim Assistance Project Annual Work Plan for 2010, a cooperation agreement signed by MoLHW and the UNDP included goals and a budget for increasing socio-economic reintegration services and strengthening the MoLHW community-based rehabilitation (CBR) program.[18] TWG meetings continued to be held on a quarterly basis in 2010 and were used to discuss victim assistance activities.[19] MoLHW continued to participate, and discussion at the meetings included data collection and victim assistance.[20]

It was not reported if mine/ERW survivors were included in planning and coordination of services.

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Victim assistance activities in 2010[21]

Name of organization

Type of organization

Type of activity

Changes in quality/coverage of service in 2010

Department of Social Affairs of the MoLHW


CBR: physical rehabilitation and other services for persons with disabilities such as social inclusion and vocational training

Increase in coverage and beneficiaries receiving services

Eritrean National War-Disabled Veterans Association (ENWVA)

National organization

Services including mobility devices, loans, and small business opportunities, counseling, and workshops

Continued assistance


International organization

Support to CBR for persons with disabilities, including physical rehabilitation, medical services, referrals, orthopedic services, and vocational training

Continued support


International organization

Supports children with disabilities in remote rural communities by providing donkeys as transportation to attend school in collaboration with MoLHW

The program was ongoing in 2010

In 2010, the capacity and quality of services for mine/ERW survivors provided through CBR increased.

The Eritrean Red Cross—backed by ICRC funds, materials, training, and expertise—continued to rebuild its capacities, including first aid. However, it had still not recovered its full capacities, especially in terms of human resources, following the suspension of its activities in 2007–2008.[22]

A UNDP capacity-building project for the MoLHW’s national community-based rehabilitation program, which included assistance to mine/ERW survivors, continued in 2010. As in the past year, more persons with disabilities had access to referral services including physiotherapy and orthopedic rehabilitation, self-care, mobility, medical support, and vocational training as well as psychological and psychiatric services through the CBR program. Other services were also provided for people with different disabilities in the community, including children.[23]

There was slight increase in the number of people referred to orthopedic services through the CBR program (1,030 in 2010, up from 960 in 2009). In 2010, at levels similar to 2009, volunteer rehabilitation workers were trained in planning, making follow-ups of target beneficiaries and reporting to improve responsiveness to the rehabilitation needs of the persons with disabilities.[24]

In 2010, the government continued to dedicate substantial resources to support and train persons with physical disabilities resulting from conflict.[25] As planned, in 2010, the CBR program provided micro-credit to survivors and other persons with disabilities through a pilot program. Some 1,430 people with disabilities received loans and technical assistance in 2010. Of the total beneficiaries, about 80% (1,130) repaid their loans on time. The UNDP provided support for the programs’ administration.[26] The ENWVA provided employment and economic inclusion opportunities, including specific services for female war veterans with disabilities.[27]

Legislation in Eritrea prohibited discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, or in the provision of other state services. In contrast to previous years, discrimination against persons with disabilities, especially in rural areas and in employment, was reported in 2010. There were no laws mandating access to buildings for persons with disabilities. However, many new buildings were built to be accessible.[28]

As of July 2011, Eritrea had not signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


[1] Emails from Habtom Seghid, Deputy General Manager, EDA, 25 February 2011.

[2] Emails from Habtom Seghid, EDA, 2 March 2010 and 13 March 2009. The EDA noted that casualty data for 2009 may be incomplete.

[3] The total includes the casualties from the LIS to June 2004 and casualties recorded by the EDA for 2005–2010.

[4] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2011, p. 11.

[5] ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2005: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2005), www.the-monitor.org.

[6] A disability study report in 2008 indicated that the total number of persons with disabilities was 75,212. The number of mine/ERW survivors was not reported. Email from Gbemi Akinboyo, Chief, Child Protection, UNICEF, 14 September 2009. In 2006, the MoLHW reported that there were 84,000 mine survivors in Eritrea of a total of 150,000 persons with disabilities. ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2006: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, July 2006), www.the-monitor.org.

[7] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2011, p. 11.

[8] On 22 April 2009, two cluster munitions were reported to have been used in an overcrowded street in the center of the port town of Massawa. Human Rights Watch, Africa Watch “Ethiopia, ‘Mengistu has Decided to Burn Us like Wood,’ Bombing of Civilians and Civilian Targets by the Air Force,” News from Africa Watch, 24 July 1990, p. 4.

[9] Handicap International (HI), Fatal Footprint: The Global Human Impact of Cluster Munitions (Brussels: HI: November 2006), p. 18.

[10] HI, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007), p. 50.

[11] Survey Action Center, “Landmine Impact Survey, Eritrea, Final Report,” May 2005, pp. 21, 25–27; Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2011, p. 11.

[12] Email from Kutloano Leshomo, Communication and Donor Relations Specialist, UNICEF, 26 June 2010; email from Eyob Ghezai, Programme Specialist, UNDP, 27 May 2010; and email from Techeste Ahderom, Senior Technical Advisor on Transition and Early Recovery, UNDP, 6 July 2010.

[13] Email from Eyob Ghezai, UNDP, 1 April 2011

[14] Article 5 Deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2011, p. 23.

[15] Email from UNICEF-Eritrea, 29 July 2011.

[16] Email from Kutloano Leshomo, UNICEF, 26 June 2010.

[17] UN, “2011 Portfolio of Mine Action Projects,” New York, March 2011, p. 155.

[18] UNDP-Eritrea and MoLHW, “Annual Work Plan for 2010: National Landmine Victim Assistance Project,” Asmara, 10 February 2010.

[19] Email from UNICEF-Eritrea, 29 July 2011.

[20] Email from Eyob Ghezai, UNDP, 29 July 2011.

[21] ICRC, “Physical Rehabilitation Programme: Annual Report 2009,” Geneva, June 2009, p. 26; Ministry of Information, “ENWVA Central Council Holds 10th Regular Meeting” Shabait (Asmara), 31 January 2010, www.shabait.com; “ENWVA Branch Members In Central Region Express Satisfaction With The Extending Of Loan,” Shabait (Asmara), 14 January 2010, www.shabait.com; “Eritrea: War-Disabled Female Veterans in Anseba Region Leading Better Standard of Living,” Shabait (Asmara), 23 December 2009, allafrica.com; “ENWVA Strives to Enhance Contribution in Nation-Building Endeavors,” Shabait (Asmara), 29 April 2010, www.shabait.com; email from Kutloano Leshomo, UNICEF, 26 June 2010; email from Eyob Ghezai, UNDP, 27 May 2010; and email from UNICEF-Eritrea, 29 July 2011.

[22] ICRC, “Annual Report 2010,” Geneva, May 2011, p. 140.

[23] Email from Eyob Ghezai, UNDP, 27 May 2010; and email from Techeste Ahderom, UNDP, 6 July 2010.

[24] Email from Eyob Ghezai, UNDP, 1 April 2011.

[25] US Department of State, “2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Eritrea,” Washington, DC, 8 April 2011.

[26] Email from Eyob Ghezai, UNDP, 1 April 2011; and email from Eyob Ghezai, UNDP, 27 May 2010.

[27]  “ENWVA assesses work accomplishment,” Eritrean Center for Strategic Studies, (Asmara), 21 January 2011, ecss-online.com; and “ENWVA extends sewing machine to 30 women disabled veterans,” Shabait (Asmara), 7 August 2010, www.shabait.com.

[28] US Department of State, “2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Eritrea,” Washington, DC, 8 April 2011.