By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch Reporter, Eastern and Southern Africa
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Yesterday, the UN released a statement that gunfire was exchanged between Eritrea and Ethiopia on Wednesday. Eritrea, once again, accuses Ethiopia of instigating a war between the two nations. In a statement posted on a website, Asmara claims Ethiopia “planted mines, carried out excursion, abducted nationals and burned crop fields in the ground”; all part of an ongoing effort to provoke them.
For several months, both Ethiopia and Eritrea has accused the other of violating the 2002 border resolution which ended the 1999-2000 war that took the lives of roughly 70,000 people. The United Nation decision granted the disputed town of Badme to Eritrea. The terms of the resolution required that the countries physically mark the boundary by the end of November or the International Boundary Commission would draw it on maps themselves and let it stand. The deadline passed with no agreement.
Last month Secretary- General Ban Ki- Moon warned in a report that the failure to resolve the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia was a cause for serious concern. Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Ethiopia to avoid raising tension with Eritrea.
According to the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), it’s Indian Battalion Post in the Temporary Security Zone on Eritrea’s side heard firing sounds coming from the direction of Gergera. The UNMEE has been in contact with both nations and is investigating the incident.
The Ethiopian government has denied all allegations by Eritrea and claims it has not employed any military attacks along the border.
With nearly 200,000 troops and heavy military equipment posted on the border, the UN has called on both sides to show the utmost restraint. The UNMEE has 1,676 military personnel, including 1,464 troops and 212 military observers, monitoring the border. The number of troops was cut back due to the lack of progress by either country.
For more information please see:
Yahoo News – Exchange of Gunfire on Eritrea- Ethiopia Border: UN – 27 December 2007
Reuters: Africa – Eritrea Accuses Ethiopia of Border Attack – 27 December 2007
AllAfrica.com – East Africa: UN Mission Calls on Ethiopia, Eritrea to Show Restraint after Shooting Incident – 27 December 2007