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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 August 2005, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
Eritrea releases blocked food aid
Eritrean soldier
Many young Eritreans are in the army, not the fields
Eritrea has released 20 tonnes of food from a stockpile held up at the port of Massawa over a tax row between the authorities and aid agencies.

In May, a law was introduced requiring non-governmental organisations to pay tax on aid imports.

The aid organisations refused to pay and the food could not be distributed. The government has now backed down and released the food. The World Food Programme welcomed the move, saying NGOs import much of Eritrea's food.

Four years of drought have hit Eritrea and nearly half of its four million people are chronically malnourished.

In January, the UN warned that some two-thirds of the population of Eritrea would require varying degrees of food assistance this year.

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