In his address to the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, HE Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi, announced that his country achieved a mutually agreed fair and peaceful settlement to the Eritrea and Djibouti border conflict through the mediation effort of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
The Minister said the two countries reached to a resolution based on the principles of good neighborliness and mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty within the internationally recognized borders.
HE Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi also stressed that Eritrea has released all Djiboutian Prisoners of War and there are currently no Djiboutian POWs under Eritrean custody.
Qatar’s statement about the Djiboutian POWs to the General Assembly was as significant as the agreed resolution between Eritrea and Djibouti.
As recently as last month, the UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) requested Eritrea to make available information concerning Djiboutian prisoners of war courtesy of the Djibouti government.
Eritrea and Djibouti signed a Seven Point Comprehensive Peace Agreement on June 6, 2010 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.”
From the get go, Eritrea said there were only seven Djiboutian POWs in its 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.
However, Djibouti argues not all the POWs were released by Eritrea although it consistently failed to track and coordinate its own contradictory figures and statements. For instance,
– 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 POW 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 POW in Eritrean custody.”
The Government of Qatar, however, clearly stated that the four POWs released by Eritrea on 18 March 2016 “were part of a group of seven in Eritrean custody, out of which one has died and two others fled.”
Despite Djibouti government’s disinformation and misrepresentation campaigns, Eritrea affirmed in its written and oral responses to the SEMG and the UN Security Council earlier this month that, the issue of POWs is concluded and any outstanding issues with Djibouti should be resolved peacefully under the existing mediation process of the Government of Qatar only.