EDMOND ROY: The small east African nation of Eritrea has come to the aid of Australia's live sheep trade, after the Cormo Express began unloading its cargo at the Eritrean port of Massawa.
The 52,000 sheep, which had spent 79 days at sea, after being rejected by 57 countries, have been given free to the Eritrean Government, along with $1 million for their upkeep.
One of the poorest countries in Africa, Eritrea often faces devastating famines.
Among those watching the docking of the Cormo Express at the port of Massawa was journalist Jonah Fisher.
I spoke with him earlier this morning.
JONAH FISHER: Well, it's hard to tell exactly how the sheep look because security is pretty tight around the port of Massawa, but you can get pretty close to the entrance where you can actually see the big ship, the Cormo Express itself.
And the thing that really strikes you as you are near the port is the smell. It’s overwhelming smell of sheep.
Workers as they walk in and out of the port are covering their mouths because it's a very strong smell, there's obviously a lot of sheep related mess on this boat, which has been for two months, with perhaps 50,000 sheep on board it.
So I can't tell you exactly what the conditions of the sheep themselves are in because they're not allowing people into the port, but one can only speculate about what one would find if one looked on board the boat itself.
EDMOND ROY: What's the thinking there?
Surely, they've got a shipload of free sheep, but other than that, is there any sort of… on the streets any reaction to it?
JONAH FISHER: Not really. The Eritreans I've spoken to generally don't even seem to know about it.
The media here is entirely owned by the Government and I think it's a message perhaps the Government doesn't want to tell the population, because effectively Eritrea has agreed to take sheep which so many other countries have been unwilling to take off Australia's hands. So in effect accepting these sheep conveys a message the Government doesn't want to have the people to have, that we're desperate enough to take these sheep ourselves.
EDMOND ROY: Now, it is of course good news for Australia in terms of getting rids of this as it were.
Is it good news for Eritrea?Of course, there's the money as well. They've being paid a million Australian dollars and given some feed towards the upkeep of these sheep.
So in a sense for the Government it's pretty much a win-win situation for what they're getting out of it – free food and some money.
EDMOND ROY: I suppose to some extent they could possibly have twisted Canberra's arm a bit.
After all, 57 countries knocked it back.
JONAH FISHER: Obviously the Australians must have been pretty desperate by the time it came to here, 57 countries as you mentioned have turned this ship down. So it was heading back to Australia by the time this deal was struck.
So this is a situation whereby the Eritreans were probably able to pretty much call the shots in terms of what they wanted in order to take what has become an extremely awkward problem for the Australian Government off their hands.
EDMOND ROY: Journalist Jonah Fisher, at the Eritrean port of Massawa.Eritrea got 1 million dollar for receiving those sheeps and 3000 metric tons of sheep food which Eritrea will use for its healty sheeps. Eritrea never had shortage of Sheep, not even during derg time... But according to my sources those sheep where slaughtered and given to feed the Tigray Refugees and those run away weyane soldiers. Iam sure TPDM, EPPF, BEANI SHANGUL and the rest of them where feed too