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UN Lifts Sanctions on Eritrea

UN Lifts Sanctions on Eritrea

Wednesday, 14 November, 2018 - 19:00
A vendor sells bananas to a customer at her grocery shop in downtown Asmara, Eritrea in this photo taken on February 21, 2016. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United Nations Security Council removed on Wednesday sanctions on Eritrea following a landmark peace deal with Ethiopia.

The council unanimously adopted a British-drafted resolution lifting the arms embargo, all travel bans, asset freezes and targeted sanctions against Eritrea.

Eritrea and Ethiopia hailed the decision as a boost for regional stability, four months after the two countries signed a peace deal that ended two decades of hostility and led to friendlier relations with Djibouti.

Addressing the council after the vote, Eritrea's Charge D'affaires Amanuel Giorgio said his government had long considered the sanctions "unwarranted" and declared: "the long overdue call for justice is finally answered."

Eritrea "is determined to redouble its own efforts and work closely with its neighbors to build a region at peace with itself," said Giorgio.

Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel posted on Twitter: “The Government of Eritrea welcomes this belated decision to redress injustice, almost a decade after nefarious acts were taken inculcating indefensible harm on the country.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement that "the lifting of sanctions will have far-reaching effects in improving the stability of the Horn of Africa" and normalizing relations.

The council slapped sanctions on Eritrea in 2009 for its alleged support of Al-Shabaab insurgents in Somalia, a claim Asmara has long denied.

The resolution acknowledged that UN monitors have "not found conclusive evidence that Eritrea supports Al-Shabaab" and declared that the sanctions and arms embargo ended with the adoption of the measure.

"The current developments will have, definitely, ripple effects in terms of economic progress, prosperity as well as human rights," Ethiopian Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie told reporters.

British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce said the resolution “recognizes the improvements in regional peace and security.”

“Not only is it a very important step for the countries in the region, I think it sends a helpful wider signal to the international community that if the right steps are taken sanctions can be lifted,” Pierce said.

Ethiopia and Somalia strongly supported calls to end sanctions, and negotiations over the past two weeks focused on addressing concerns about Djibouti.

The resolution calls on Eritrea and Djibouti to press on with efforts to settle a 2008 border dispute and asks Asmara to release information concerning Djiboutian soldiers missing in clashes a decade ago. It asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report to the council on progress by February 15 and then every six months.

At France's request, the council will hear a report every six months on Eritrea's efforts to normalize relations with Djibouti, where France, the United States and China all have military bases.

Djibouti is asking the United Nations to help broker a final settlement with Eritrea to agree on land and maritime boundaries and resolve a dispute over the Doumeira Island, Ambassador Mohamed Siad Doualeh told the council.

The fate of 13 remaining Djiboutian prisoners in Eritrean custody must be addressed, he added.

Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s, and war broke out later that decade over a border dispute.

A 2002 UN-backed boundary demarcation was meant to settle the dispute for good, but Ethiopia refused to abide by it.

A turnaround began in June when Ethiopia announced it would hand back to Eritrea disputed areas including the flashpoint town of Badme, where the first shots of the border war were fired.

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