Eritrea’s Response to Issues Raised by the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group

Eritrea response monitoring group
Eritrea’s response to the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) on 24 August 2016 on issues raised on the justification of maintaining sanctions, support to armed groups, arms embargo, financial issues, and Djiboutian POWs.

By Eritrea’s Mission to the UN,

The government of Eritrea commends the Chair of the Security Council Committee, His Excellency Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno for organizing this important dialogue and interaction between Eritrea and SEMG. Eritrea also appreciates the constructive role the UN Secretariat is playing.

It must be underlined and recalled that the SEMG has visited Eritrea twice and had extensive discussions with all relevant ministries, government and private institutions as well as diplomatic communities. Moreover, in the past three years alone, Eritrean government officials and SEMG have had more than 15 meetings, including three video conferences in which Eritrean officials gave extensive and clear explanations.

Eritrea has also provided several clear, timely and comprehensive written responses to the SEMG and the UNSC. Therefore, while Eritrea’s track record is showing it fully cooperated with the SEMG, it is not only unfair but factually wrong for some quarters to accuse Eritrea for “luck of cooperation with the SEMG”. It is a politically motivated allegation that is advanced by certain quarters for the purpose of maintaining the unjust sanction.

In the spirit of constructive and transparent engagement, the Eritrean government is once again, today on 24 August 2016, interacting through the Chair with the SEMG in a three way teleconference. The following is therefore Eritrea’s oral and written response to the different issues raised by the SEMG.

Eritrea expects the Chair of the Committee and the Security Council to instruct the SEMG to properly include in its final report a summary of today’s Eritrea’s oral and written responses.

The full text of this written response is also expected to be annexed to the SEMG final report.

1./ There is no justification to maintain the unjust sanction against the people of Eritrea

The two pretexts for imposing the unjust sanction against the people of Eritrea: (a) Eritrea’s alleged support to Al-Shabaab in Somalia and (b) The dispute with Djibouti are proven to be non-existent.

For the last four years, the SEMG has ascertained that “it has found no evidence of Eritrea’s support to Al-Shabab in Somalia”. Regarding Eritrea-Djibouti dispute, the presidents of Eritrea and Djibouti have signed on 6 June 2010 a comprehensive seven point agreement entrusting the Amir of Qatar to mediate all outstanding issues between the two countries.

Implementing the agreement, Eritrea has withdrawn its troops from the common Eritrea – Djibouti border and the Qatari soldiers are deployed in the area, a fact that is confirmed by the State of Qatar in its letter dated 10th June 2010 sent to the UN Security Council. Therefore, since there is no imagined or real problem Eritrea is involved in Somalia or Djibouti, that affect peace and security of the region, there is nothing for the SEMG to investigate. Also, there is no justification for the Security Council to maintain the unjust sanction against the Eritrean people. It must be lifted immediately and unconditionally.

2./ Support to Armed Groups

This provision is inserted under the politically motivated allegation that “Eritrea supports Al-Shabab in Somalia” and in the context of its implication to regional peace and security. For the last three years, the SEMG has concluded that “it ha found no evidence of Eritrea’s support to Al-Shabab in Somalia”. The issue of “support for armed groups” is therefore deliberately advanced by certain forces to move the goal post and stretch the mandate of the SEMG to deal with Ethiopia – Eritrea conflict and to maintain the unjust sanction against the people of Eritrea.

Eritrea strongly feels that the Security Council has not given the SEMG the mandate to deal or report on Ethiopia – Eritrea conflict. Eritrea also strongly feels it is about time for the Security Council to give clear instruction to the SEMG to stop reporting on Eritrean – Ethiopian conflict under the pretext of “supporting armed groups in the region”.

The Security Council clearly understands that the Ethiopia – Eritrea conflict is not within the purview of the SEMG’s mandate. It is an issue to deal with the occupied and the occupier. This persistent and unwarranted attempt by the SEMG to deal with the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia under the pretext of “supporting armed groups” is not only unacceptable but a diversionary tactic used by certain forces to maintain the unjust sanction against the people of Eritrea and to embolden Ethiopia.

Therefore, SEMG attempt to deal with Ethiopia – Eritrea conflict must be dismissed by all members of the Security Council as illicit, inappropriate and counter-productive. This illegal and unnecessary intervention by the SEMG has in fact encouraged the Ethiopian government to occupy sovereign Eritrea territory including the town of Badme for the last 14 years. This is a violation of the UN Charter and the final and binding Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) 2002 delimitation and 2007 demarcation decisions.

Ethiopia is also training armed mercenary and subversive groups. It has become a common feature for high level Ethiopian officials to make belligerent public statements against Eritrea.

For example: –

  • On 12 June 2016, the Ethiopian government unleashed unprovoked major military aggression against Eritrea at the Tsorona front. Concerning this belligerent act and violation of the UN Charter, it must be recalled that the government of Eritrea had sent two letters to the UN Security Council on 13th and 23rd June 2016 requesting an urgent meeting on the Council in accordance with the article 34 and 35 of the UN Charter. To Eritrea’s surprise and disappointment, no action was taken against Ethiopia by the UN Security Council.
  • On 05 July 2016, addressing the Ethiopian parliament, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia said, “We have taken a proportional military action against the Eritrean government and we will intensify this policy.”
  • On 28 June 2016, while presenting his report to the Parliament, the Ethiopian Defence Minister arrogantly admitted that it is Ethiopia not Eritrea that started the military confrontation at the Tsorona front on 12th June 2016. He said, “The action taken by the patriotic Ethiopia Defence forces demonstrated that our forces have the capacity to take military action against Eritrea at any time. We have given the Eritrean regime something to worry about. The Ethiopian defence forces are ready and capable to execute any measure that the parliament deems necessary regarding Eritrea”.
  • In the same meeting, invoking Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia in 2006, Dr. Adhana, a card-carrying member of TPLF, demanded for a major military offensive to overthrow the Eritrea government.
  • On 14 June 2016, in an interview with Ethiopian Journalist and the Voice of America, Ethiopian Minister of Government Communications, Mr. Getachew Redda, stated that “on 12 June 2016, Ethiopia took proportional military action and gave a lesson to the Eritrean government.” He also vowed to continue the policy.
  • On 07 July 2015, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia speaking to his parliament said that “Ethiopia will be forced to take appropriate action against Eritrea.”
  • On 09 August 2014 during an interview with the Washington D.C. based Radio Tsenat, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia clearly stated that “the no-war no-peace situation with Eritrea is over. Ethiopia from now on is ready to take military action against Eritrea.”
  • On 17 April 2012, speaking to the Ethiopian Parliament, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi stated that “the Ethiopian government has now decided to carry out a more active policy, taking actions against Eritrea. The action will involve using all means at Ethiopia’s disposal to change the Eritrean government. The other major area where Ethiopia will further strengthen its activity is in supporting Eritreans in their campaign to change the government.”

The use of threat of use of force against any country, big or small, is a violation of the UN Charter and International Law that should be condemned by the Security Council.

Concerning the political, social and military crises and problems inside Ethiopia, the government of Eritrea has nothing to do with them. They are purely crises that are products of Ethiopia’s ethnic based political and structural problems as well as misguided economic policy. These are well documented facts by several Ethiopian organizations and international humanitarian groups for anybody including the SEMG to see and understand. Leave Eritrea alone.

It must, however, be underlined that the UNSC has full responsibility and obligation to deal with Ethiopia – Eritrea conflict, under a separate and different agenda item. As a guarantor of the Algiers Agreement and shouldering its global responsibility, the Security Council must also clearly demand the Ethiopian government to withdraw its occupation army from sovereign Eritrean territory including the town of Badme, immediately and unconditionally. It must also condemn Ethiopian high level government officials for their public and frequent belligerent statements and military aggression and threats against Eritrea.

3./ Arms Embargo

Eritrea has not violated the unjust “Arms Embargo” resolution. The imposition of arms embargo is unjustified and counter productive. The embargo does not enhance peace and security in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea Region. In fact, it is a recipe for humanitarian and military disaster. It has already encouraged the government of Ethiopia to occupy sovereign Eritrean territory including the town of Badme for the last 14 years. It has also emboldened high level Ethiopian government officials to publicly declare belligerent “regime change” agenda.

The ars embargo does not only negatively affect Eritrean’s capability to effectively and efficiently contribute in the fight against regional and global terrorism and extremism; it will also encourage terrorist groups, pirates and illegal fishing companies to take adventures activities inside Eritrea land and sea sovereign territories and air space.

It must be underlined and clearly understood that Eritrea with 1,200 Kilometers of coast line and more than 350 islands as well as 50% Christian and 50% Muslim population is located in the most volatile Horn of Africa and the Red Sea Region. Nevertheless, it is a peaceful and harmonious country. With Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and Ethiopia in a crises situation, the world can not afford to “create and manage” another crisis in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea Region. Therefore, since the SEMG did not find credible and verifiable evidence that Eritrea has violated the arms embargo, it has the responsibility to recommend to the Security Council unconditionally and immediately to lift the arms embargo against Eritrea and for the Security Council to do so.

4./ Financial Issues and Natural Resources

The provision of the UNSC resolution related to the financial matters, i.e. the 2% Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Tax and the Mining Sector, are anchored on hypothetical and speculative assumptions on its “potential use”. First of all, the UNSC resolution does not give the SEMG the mandate it claims to have. Furthermore, the SEMG has several times ascertained that “it has no evidence of Eritrea support to Al-Shabab”. Therefore, there is no justification for the UN Security Council and the SEMG to continue requesting Eritrea to provide information on these matters. It is also a violation of the UN Charter that respects the sovereignty as well as the political independence of Eritrea.

Just for the record and in the spirit of transparency and cooperation once again the Eritrean government through the Chair wants to inform the SEMG that Eritrea’s total revenue from the mining sector is about 200 million per year. When compared with the public and social expenditure such as Education, Health, and Food Security, this revenue is insignificant.

For example, in 2014, the government of Eritrea’s budget for education, health and food security alone was $328,894,753.00 US dollar while its annual expense for fuel is also over $300 million dollar. Therefore, “the potential” and possibility of diverting the revenue to other activities is impossible and non-existence. Eritrea is also a least developing country. Therefore, there is no justification for the SEMG to continue with its hypothetical and speculative analysis as well as reporting methodology and investigation. The unjust sanction is also clear that it affects Eritrean peoples’ right for development. It is a collective punishment which is the highest form of human rights violations. It also goes against the letter and spirit of Agenda 20130. The motto “No One Should Be Left Behind” must be respected by all of us. As a result, Eritrea expects the SEMG to recommend to the Security council to lift the unjust sanction against the people of Eritrea and the Security Council to do so.

5./ Djiboutian prisoners of war

The Eritrean government would like, through the Chair, to inform the SEMG, there are no Djiboutian prisoners of war in Eritrean custody. This is an issue that has been properly settles and concluded by the government of Qatar on 18th March 2016. This fact is confirmed by the letter the Government of Qatar sent to the UN Secretary General. Eritrea, therefore, does not understand why the SEMG wants to continue reporting on an issue that is clearly concluded and settled through the Qatari mediation. The SEMG must maintain its neutrality and objectivity. The issue is not whether Eritrea should make available information concerning Djiboutian prisoners of war. The issue is to whom it should report. Eritrea strongly feels that the correct and appropriate mechanism is the Qatari mediation.

The SEMG must also respect this mechanism. Concerning the matter, it must consult and interact with the government of Qatar not with the government of Eritrea or Djibouti. In no way or under any pretext it should include insinuations, hearsay and baseless allegations it receives from different quarters in particular Djibouti, about Eritrea. The SEMG is established to investigate information it receives from reliable and credible sources not from politically and diplomatically motivated sources.

Once again, inthe spirit of transparency and cooperation as well as setting the record straight, the Eritrean government would like, through the Chai, to present to the Security Council and the SEMG Eritrea’s stance on the issue of “Djiboutian prisoners of war in its custody”.

There are no more Djiboutian prisoners of war in Eritrean custody. There were only seven Djiboutian POWs in Eritrean custody out of which two escaped, one has died and the remaining four have been released on 18 March 2016 through the mediation of the Government of Qatar.

On 6th June 2010, the Presidents of Eritrea and Djibouti signed a Seven Point Comprehensive Peace Agreement to settle their disputes peacefully, through the mediation of the Emir of Qatar.

Article 3 of the Seven-point Agreement, states that:

“Each party shall provide the state of Qatar with a list containing the number and names of POWs detained by it. All these shall be done under the supervision of the State of Qatar.”

In violation of this clear agreement and instead of sticking to the Government of Qatar mediation process, Djibouti preferred to pursue a disinformation and cherry-picking approach by raising the issue of Djiboutian POWs outside the mediation mechanism that both Presidents agreed to respect. It even went to an extent of presenting contradictory figures.

– In 2015, in official letter sent to SEMG, the government of Djibouti claimed that “there are 18 POWs in Eritrean custody.”

– The 19 March 2016 Press Statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Djibouti claimed that “there are 13 Djiboutian Prisoners of War in Eritrean custody.’

– In a letter dated 31 March 2016 to the UN Security Council, the Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the United Nations claimed that “there are 15 Djiboutian prisoner of war in Eritrean custody.”

Clearly, the Djiboutian government has not only been fabricating contradictory figures but has also failed to track and coordinate its own fabricated figures and statements. Contrary to the Djiboutian disinformation campaign, the Government of Qatar has clearly stated that the four POWs released by Eritrea “were part of a group of seven in Eritrean custody, out of which one has died and two others fled.”

On its part, Eritrea respecting the letter and spirit of 6 June 2010 Agreement insisted the issues to be handled comprehensively and only through the mediation of the Government of Qatar and refused to discuss or debate the issue of Djiboutian POWs in another fora. The principled and legitimate stance of Eritrea did finally bear fruit.

The disinformation and misrepresentation campaigns aside, the Government of Eritrea diligently pursued the mediation process of the Government of Qatar. As a result, extensive and constructive discussion took place in Doha between the Emir of Qatar and the President of Djibouti on 28 February as well as the Emir of Qatar and the President of Eritrea on 15 March 2016.

Subsequently, on 17 March 2016, Eritrea released all Djiboutian prisoners of war in its custody and handed them to the Government of Qatar. These four Djiboutian POWs accompanied by the Foreign Minister of Qatar arrived in Djibouti on 18 March 2016. During the receiving ceremony at the airport, in a joint conference, the Djiboutian Foreign Minister, praised the release of Djiboutian POWs by Eritrea “as a positive step forward.”

Immediately after the press conference, accompanied by the Foreign Ministers of Qatar and Djibouti, the four Djiboutian POWs were taken to the palace to meet the President of Djibouti. In this meeting, the President of Djibouti expressed his appreciation to the Emir of Qatar for the role he played in the release of the Djiboutian POWs and expressed his commitment to the Qatari mediation process.

It must be underlined that be it at the airport or at the Palace handover ceremonies, the Djiboutian government high-level officials have never complained or registered their reservation to the Government of Qatar concerning the number of Djiboutian released by Eritrea. In fact, informing the release of Djiboutian POWs by Eritrea as well as settlement and conclusion of the issue, the Government of Qatar sent a letter to the UN Secretary General on 18 March 2016. In response to this positive development, between the two countries and the United Nations Secretary-General and several governments commended the release of Djiboutian POWs by Eritrea and expressed their support to the mediation effort of the Government of Qatar to resolve other outstanding issues between Djibouti and Eritrea.

Given these uncontroversial facts and Djibouti’s high level government official’s public statement, “that they are committed to the Government of Qatar mediation process”, Eritrea does not understand why the ESMG continue to reflect the Djiboutian baseless allegation against Eritrea. Eritrea, therefore, expects the UNSC to give clear instruction to the SEMG not to deal with the issue and to cease from reporting on the matter.

The issue of POWs concluded, once again, the Eritrean government wants to reiterate its commitment to the mediation of the Sate of Qatar and its readiness to solve other outstanding issues with Djibouti peacefully. It is high time for the SEMG to stop reporting on the Djiboutian POWs and for the UNSC to unconditionally and immediately lift the unjust sanction against the people of Eritrea.

17 thoughts on “Eritrea’s Response to Issues Raised by the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group

  1. The SEMG should drop paragraphs on alshebab/djibouti and replace them with the G-15 and journalists. it should order pfdj to release them.

  2. I really like how Eritrea debunked the Djibouti fairytale once and for all. How come Djibouti don’t know how many POWs it left in Eritrea? Why they didn’t complain when they first receive the POWs and why sending three conflicting POW numbers after that? Because they are liars. If one speaks the truth, he don’t need to remember it. Because he can tell you that same truth over and over again. But a liar can not repeat what he said earlier. In my opinion the response Eritrea delivered regarding Djibouti POWs is final and will definitely put to rest the case. Eritrea should close that file once and for all and refuse to discuss on that issue with anyone, even if it is the UN.

  3. Now it’s just excuses.

    1st excuse – after the SEMG confirms no evidence for Al-Shaabab, they make up a reason for keeping the sanctions by saying it’s b/c of lack of cooperation with the Monitoring Group

    2nd excuse – now that Qatari soldiers are along the border and Qatar has confirmed that all POWs have been released, they don’t like what the Qataris are saying so instead they take information from Djibouti – which is biased and goes against the mediation process. They wanted Qatari mediation, so now they need to accept the info coming from them.

    Now that the two reasons for maintaining the sanctions are kaput, they’re trying to extend the mandate by including the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict and arming of opposition groups. However they cannot do this without admitting that Ethiopia occupies Eritrea and Ethiopia also arms subversive groups to attack Eritrea, so they’re fighting a losing battle. They just need to lift the sanctions this December and call it a #fail.

    1. Umm…Yes, they can. We all know the sanctions are bullshit.

      They can even write that Ethiopia still occupies Badme but that the Ethiopians wants negotiations before implementing and that they “accept in principle”. But Eritrea still will get the blame…Bottom line is that Ethiopia is an US ally. They need help to stay in power. The west thinks by applying pressure means that the TPLF will stay in power. They’re wrong.

      Bet money that the US Policy regarding Eritrea will change swiftly. How swiftly? Will see.

  4. Malelit criminal regime was denying first the existence of a border skirmish on June 12 at the Tsorona front and after the incident got the attention of the world, Malelit regime spokesperson was forced to acknowledge the existence yet denied they have started it. They blame Eritrea for starting the incident after attacking a group of people who were playing football early in the morning hours (5:00 am to be exact). After they receive a first class treatment by the Eritrean armed forces that left several hundred of their troops killed and injured, they acknowledge the fighting was fierce and there were loses in both sides but more on Eritrean side.

    However, Eritrea issued a serious of rare press releases to keep the incident on the spotlight. Eritrea pushed the malelit army from its initial position and sent a thin coded message not to mess around any further.

    The dreadful malelits however only took them 16 days to forget their original denial statements to only tell their people in the parliament that their patriotic defence force took action against Eritrea. “The action taken by the patriotic Ethiopia Defence forces demonstrated that our forces have the capacity to take military action against Eritrea at any time.”

    I really like how the Eritrean delegation responded to the issue about Ethiopia. The monitoring group have no moral ground to ask Eritrea why it assists Ethiopian opposition rebels on its soil. It was not Eritrea’s call in the first place. If it was not for Ethiopia to start assembling dozens of opposition against Eritrea and announce a regime change policy, Eritrea wouldn’t dare to invest its meager resources on a bunch of rebels. However, when the regime’s policy against Eritrea hits a snag and the so called assembled opposition groups only gain some weight with out bringing any tangible change on the ground, on the other hand, the Ethiopian opponents inside Eritrea gain strength and becoming a force that no one afford to ignore, the Monitors are jumping in to reverse the tide at the behest of the regime’s benefactor. Hell NO. Too late. Eritrea should also need to close that file once and for all as well. Even if the UN puts that option (disbanding the Ethiopian opposition from Eritrea) as the only condition to lift the sanction, Eritrea should simply need to press the IGNORE button and deal with the sanction instead. The rebels are Eritrea’s JOKER card against the malelit regime. No amount of sanction can stop Eritrea (a country that has a 1,600km open border along the Red Sea) from acquiring weapons thanks to our friends indeed countries.

    Eritrea should put pressure on the regime by increasing the strength of the rebels and work on post-malelit era. We have already start to see results on the ground as the ground beneath the malelit feet starts shifting. The regime is in deep crisis and one small miscalculation will take it to its demise.

    1. Very well said Meaza. Woyane have invested all its political card to make sure the sanction on Eritrea is maintained. The regime has been ready to do everything asked in return keeping Eritrea sanctioned. In other words, the West can use “Lifting Eritrea sanction” as a new pressure tactic against the regime. If the west want to see democracy in Ethiopia, what they need to do is raise the “Lifting Eritrea Sanction” card as a condition and trust me, woyane will implement it at no time and even willing to hold a snap election in three months than seeing Eritrea sanction free.

    2. The card is in the hands of the ethiopian people. The moment they realize the ” international community”, is the enemy of both the eritrean and ethiopian people, every mischief will be defeated. The way the world media is ignoring their suffering is one alarm clock, they have to draw a valuable lesson from.

      1. Once Eritrean govt can get sanctions lifted, and hard economic Laws/policy/framework for investment/legal protection for companies/ etc then the opportunities will flow in for the country and the youth. Eritrea is on the cusp, I only hope the destabilization of the region does not destroy so many countries. The USA/UN cares NOT about ANY African country, they only care for what they can gain/control. Ethiopia must realize this before it compellty collapses and Eritrea must be vigilant as well as hoepful that the effort of Ethiopia’s problems do not spill over into Eritrea in many different forms. Eritrea is close to getting the ball rolling, let us pray that it keeps going in that direction and we start to see sustainable and real changes.

  5. ASAP weyani collapses, the total scenario of the Horn, will change, no SMEG, no shila, no rize, no nothing. Just Peace in the the what left now is #OromoProtests and #AmharaProtests need to accelerate the job.

  6. For every issues about Eritrea, the leaders in Asmera has been given a response but no one seems to listen or agree. Actually, you have convinced supporters in diaspora, the entire world is out to get you. Can it be, its all in your head? Point by point, Meles and the current PM has explained to you why sanctions are needed and its not going anywhere. The reason has always been simple. Support for shabab is a no no, evidence can be found in Addis for all to see. Djibouti is telling you to release POW’s, you accuse them of failing math. SEMG put together resoultion 1907 with paragraph 16 stating, no arm rebels but you are dying to write about Gim7, how the leader is sitting in Asmera with bun and laptop. 2017 UN will have Ethiopia on the seat, the only card left to play is wishing crisis in Ethiopia and Yemen. Few months left before we advocate to take the cancer out, stay tuned.

    1. Sentek – not sure you are following the news lately – your western masters are trying to keep chifra Woy-anne on life support at all cost and by all means – and you have the audacity to remind us that the two TPLF prime ministers as the ones capable of explaining why the illegal sanction was created!! get a grief ….Look at the way Girma articulated the Eritrean points of view truthfully and clearly -it is a well prepared and presented diplomatic response -excellent ,,

      To help you understand how we Eritreans think -I am recommending Berket Mengstab’s COBRA for your enjoyment – it is a beautiful song….

  7. Lift off the Unjust sanction from Eritrea . It is about time to compensate the Eritrean people .The accusatives should have to bring them into Justice and punished for it .,for given false accusation about the Eritrean people .It is a crime to blame to eritrea which is got nothing for it.The Djibouti Government doesn’t know what he is talking about . Hand off Eritrea.

    1. I am very sorry for the Eritrean representatives and their followers. The Eritrean government is known for creating unrest in the Horn of Africa, instead we should concentrate on solving our own problems. Our youth are dying every day trying to escape the horrible living in Eritrea. I am surprised to see Eritreans support such a criminal government who does not care for its own citizens, spends money to support Ginbot 7 and the Oromo group. They are running the country as they are still in the strangle by controlling its own citizens.

      1. The Eritrean gov’t is doing its duty for ex. trying to make believe the allegation was false and the saction should be lifted. Each and everyone has responsibility to see things straight. Let me ask you my dear sister is it right what our youth are doing after they left their country? How many of them use the opportunity and go to school or else being disciplined? I tell y very few. So if all of us feel responsibility the gap could be narrowed. Material satisfaction is not only enough!

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