INTRODUCTION: Ethiopia is reported to have launched a new military campaign to regain its Red Sea province of Eritrea from secessionist guerrillas.
GV & TV Military convoy escorting vehicles through mountains en route to Massawa (2 shots)
LV PAN & SVs Massawa destruction after war. Buildings wrecked, including damaged hospital (5 shots)
GV & LV Greek vessel being unloaded in the repaired port of Massawa (3 shots)
SV & CU Women of the Dahlak Islands is literacy classroom with covered faces and teacher pointing at blackboard (6 shots)
GV PAN Crowds gathered outside Mosque, Asmara
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Ethiopia is reported to have launched a new military campaign to regain its Red Sea province of Eritrea from secessionist guerrillas. The Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) stated recently that Ethiopian troops had landed at several places on the coast in northern Eritrea. And it said a mechanized column form Asmara, the provincial capital, had moved north into mountain areas now held by the guerrillas.
SYNOPSIS: Ethiopian troops were filmed last week (20 January) as they drove in force to Massawa -- Eritrea's strategic Red Sea port, captured from the secessionists two years ago. The EPLF say 20,000 Ethiopian soldiers are involved in the latest offensive backed by tanks, long-range artillery and air support. But the guerrillas claim to have inflicted heavy losses on the Ethiopians. Intermittent fighting has been going on in the province for the last year since the rebels drove off a big Ethiopian offensive aimed at retaking the mountain town of Nafka, the only town remaining in rebel hands.
This was how Massawa looked in February, 1979 -- more than 90 percent of it in ruins. The port was a vital objective for the guerrillas. But they never did manage to take their objective completely. The Ethiopian government claimed the rebels' heavy artillery fire not only destroyed the hospital but also killed most of the patients inside. The EPLF reached the outskirts of the town during the artillery barrage but were wiped out by government forces during a successful counter-attack. Three-thousand secessionist troops lost their lives around the city.
Today, Massawa is back to normal again. Large-scale reconstruction has taken place. The port facilities, heavily damaged in the battle, would have been a valuable gain for the guerrillas in their bid to establish a link across the Red Sea with sympathetic Arab governments.
On a more peaceful note, Ethiopia's national literacy campaign is successfully under way in Massawa. Ethiopian women from the nearby island of Dahlak, who lead a very secluded life, have been attending classes in the town. The campaign was launched by the Ethiopian leader, Chairman Mengistu Haile Mariam, in July, 1979. His country's literacy drive won it the 1980 literacy award of UNESCO -- the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
At first, Ethiopia's literacy campaign was aimed at enrolling three million people in urban areas. But it became so popular that over five million people joined the classes only two months after they were launched.