The Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee provided an update to the Security Council yesterday (18) on the recent findings of its Monitoring Group and called Eritrea for “frank and sincere” cooperation over its reported involvement in the Yemen conflict, support for armed groups in Ethiopia and progress on the question of Djibouti prisoners of war.
Council President for February and Ambassador of Venzuela, Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño, spoke in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009), that the Monitoring Group so far had not found any proof to suggest that Eritrea supporting Al-Shabaab.
Council President also said that Qatar was mediating Eritrea’s territorial dispute with Djibouti and its troops were keeping the peace between the two countries. Therefore, if the two reasons for imposing secondary sanctions on Eritrea were no longer present, the time had come to reconsider the scope of the sanctions against Asmara.
Ambassador Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño in his capacity as Chair of the Sanction Committee also raps, the Somalia – Eritrea Monitoring Group for overstepping its mandate in offering unsubstantiated information to the committee, notably on the Eritrea-Ethiopia dispute, which fell outside its reach, adding that an appropriate forum should be sought to address that situation.
Eritrea has been critical of the Somalia – Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) and keeps calling for the group to stick to its stated mandates and follow the highest evidentiary standards to support its claims as the group relays sometimes on non-credible and non-verifiable information that can not be substantiated by any credible sources.
The Monitoring Group in its October report alleges Eritrean troops involvement in the Yemen conflict. If the participation of Eritrea in the Yemen crisis was confirmed, that could constitute a violation of resolution 1907 (2009).
Ambassador Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño said the Secretary-General had appointed an eight member new experts to the Monitoring Group in line with a strictly new mandate.
The experts are in the fields of arms, armed groups, financial affairs, humanitarian affairs, maritime affairs and regional issues, among others. From 11 – 15 January, these experts had visited New York and held bilateral discussions with various groups, as well as with the Permanent Representative of Eritrea.
In the ensuing debate, speakers expressed regret that the Monitoring Group had not been allowed into Eritrea for three years, and urged Eritrea to enhance communication with the Committee under relevant Council resolutions.
“Little has changed,” said the representative of the United States, emphasizing that obstructing the Monitoring Group’s work was at odds with Eritrea’s calls for the lifting of sanctions imposed on it.
However, the United Kingdom’s representative said that, perhaps with a new Monitoring Group now in place, cooperation would follow.
Ambassador Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño inform the Security Council that he, as Chair of the Sanction Committee, and the Sanction Committee had received invitations from President Isaias Afwerki to visit Eritrea and the trip would be organised in the coming months.
The Russian Federation’s representative described attempts to increase pressure on the Asmara Government as ‘counterproductive’, while a representative from Senegal requested the Monitoring Group to provide additional information on the charge that Eritrean soldiers were in Yemen on behalf of the Arab coalition.
Speaking in his national capacity, however, Council President Ramírez said that the Monitoring Group was unable to confirm that allegation yet.
PETER WILSON (United Kingdom):
It was “frankly outrageous” that the Monitoring Group had been unable to enter Eritrea for three years. The ball was in Eritrea’s court and it was to be hoped that, with a new Monitoring Group in place, cooperation would follow.
YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan):
It was unfortunate that the Monitoring Group had been unable to visit Eritrea since 2011, stressing the obligation of Member States had to abide by Security Council resolutions. It was to be hoped that the Government of Eritrea would engage with the new Monitoring Group in a cooperative and constructive manner, with support from the Sanctions Committee and the Council.
RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia):
Expressed regret that the Monitoring Group had not been allowed into Eritrea and urged that country to enhance communication with the Committee under relevant Council resolutions.
PHILLIP TAULA (New Zealand):
A visit to the Horn of Africa region by the Chair of the Sanctions Committee would be helpful.
PETR ILIICHEV (Russian Federation):
Welcomed the absence of evidence that it was supporting Al-Shabaab, and described attempts to increase pressure on the Asmara Government as counterproductive.
FODÉ SECK (Senegal):
He noted that the Monitoring Group had found no proof that the Government of Eritrea supported Al-Shabaab, and requested that the Group explain further how Eritrea supported armed groups in Ethiopia.
Calling upon Eritrea to cooperate more fully with the Monitoring Group, he said the assertion that Eritrean soldiers were in Yemen on behalf of the Arab coalition only led to questions. “We would like further explanation regarding such allegations,” he emphasized, while also noting the lack of progress on the border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti.
ALEXIS LAMEK (France):
While the Monitoring Group had found no evidence that it was supporting armed groups in the Horn of Africa, conditions for lifting sanctions had not been met. France hoped to see Eritrea’s “frank and sincere” cooperation with the Monitoring Group, especially on the issue of Djibouti prisoners, adding that he did not understand what was preventing Asmara’s cooperation.
DAVID PRESSMAN (United States):
“Little has changed, and frankly it needs to”. Obstructing the Monitoring Group’s work was at odds with Eritrea’s calls for the lifting of sanctions.
JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola):
He was pleased to note that there was no evidence that the Government had been supporting Al-Shabaab. The Council should take note of that and take decisions accordingly.
ZHAO YONG (China):
In the absence of evidence that Eritrea was supporting Al-Shabaab, relative changes should be made to the sanctions regime.
ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain):
He underlined the importance of dialogue between Eritrea’s Government and the Monitoring Group, saying that a visit to Eritrea by the Group would be welcome.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay):
He expressed regret that its support for armed groups in Yemen and Ethiopia were yet to be confirmed. Spain looked forward to the Committee’s reports, to be presented in April and October.
Mr. RAMÍREZ (Venezuela):
He said none of the reports had shown a link between Eritrea and Al-Shabaab. Qatar was mediating the territorial dispute with Djibouti and its troops were keeping the peace. If the two reasons for imposing secondary sanctions on Eritrea were no longer present, the time had come to reconsider the scope of the sanctions against Asmara.
The Monitoring Group was overstepping its mandate in offering unsupported information, notably on the Eritrea-Ethiopia dispute, which fell outside its reach, he said, adding that an appropriate forum should be sought to address that situation.
Noting that the Monitoring Group had also received an unconfirmed report about Eritrean troops in Yemen, he said that he had himself received an invitation from that country’s President to visit as Chair of the Sanctions Committee. That trip would be organized in the coming months, he said, emphasizing that the Committee must assess the flow of weapons into the region.