At General Assembly, Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of spoiling peace efforts in Somalia


Ethiopia accused Eritrea of continuing to undermine efforts to restore peace and stability in Somalia by arming insurgents battling the transitional Government in Mogadishu and urged the Security Council to strictly enforce existing sanctions against Eritrea.

“Despite the sanctions, Eritrea is still the principal architect of the complicated situation in Somalia by training, arming and nurturing the extremist elements such as Al Shabaab and Hisbul Islam who are causing havoc in the country today,” Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin said in his statement to the General Assembly’s high-level debate.

In a resolution in January last year, the Council imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea and a travel ban and an assets freeze on Eritrean political and military leaders who violated the embargo or provided support to armed opposition groups destabilizing Somalia, UN News Service reports.

The resolution followed a request by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) for the Council to take such action.
“The time, therefore, is long overdue for the Security Council to take resolute action and see to it that its decisions are complied with if we are to maintain the integrity of the decisions of our organizations,” Mr. Mesfin said.

Yesterday, Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh told the General Assembly that the UN “continues to ignore” Ethiopia’s failure to comply with the ruling of an international commission that delineated the border between the two countries after their 1998-2000 war.
“While the United Nations grapples with Sudan and Somalia, it continues to ignore grave consequences of Ethiopia’s continued occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory, eight years after the ruling of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), and three years after the Commission ended its work by depositing in the United Nations the demarcated boundary between the two countries,” said Mr. Saleh.

To end the border war, both parties agreed to abide by the ruling of the border commission, which was reached in April 2002. However, Ethiopia’s rejection of the decision stalled the physical demarcation of the border in 2003.
“Ethiopia’s illegal occupation and the United Nations silence, which mean the continuation of the conflict, is exacting a heavy price on the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia and complicating the regional situation.
“I wish to remind the United Nations that Eritrea awaits responsible and urgent action to end Ethiopia’s violation of international law and its threat to regional peace and security,” Mr. Saleh told the General Assembly’s high-level debate.

Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had a meeting yesterday with Mr. Mesfin during which they discussed regional peace and security, including the situations in Somalia and Sudan. They also discussed Ethiopia’s support of UN climate change initiatives and the country’s commendable progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to end extreme poverty by 2015.

Mr. Ban also met with Mr. Saleh and thanked Eritrea for its participation in the MDG summit last week and in the General Assembly high-level debate.

The Secretary-General and Mr. Saleh discussed, among other issues, peace and security challenges in the Horn of Africa, including in Somalia and Sudan, and the agreement on the border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, mediated by Qatar.

Mr. Ban encouraged Mr. Saleh to continue to engage the UN on all matters relevant to Eritrea.