By Kylie M Tsudama
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
WASHINGTON DC, United States – United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told a congressional committee that the United States is “deeply concerned and very frustrated” with Eritrea’s behavior in Somalia.
Eritrea is accused of arming, supporting, and funding al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, and of helping to destabilize the country and the surrounding region with a direct impact on US security.
“It is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate it, and nor will other members of the Security Council,” Rice said to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rice told the UN that Eritrea’s contributions to Somali rebels would not be tolerated and that the Obama administration is committed to international peacekeeping operations. The US supports reforms that will save money, strengthen oversight, and prevent fraud and abuse, including a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation by peacekeepers.
The United States is contributing $2.2 billion of the United Nations’ $7.8 billion UN peacekeeping budget for 2009.
Eritrea is running out of time before the UN Security Council intervenes and faces possible sanctions if it does not change its behavior.
“As I said in New York, there is a very short window for Eritrea to signal, through its actions, that it wishes a better relationship with the United States and the wider international community. If we do not see signs of that signal in short order, I can assure you that we will be taking appropriate steps with partners in Africa and the Security Council to take cognizance of Eritrea’s actions both in Somalia and the wider region,” said Rice. “We will continue to discuss with colleagues in the Security Council appropriate measures, including potentially sanctions, against Eritrea for its actions in Somalia.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit with Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed during her visit to the region next week.
For more information, please see:
BBC – US Threatens Eritrea Over Somalia – 30 July 2009
Al Jazeera – US Threatens Eritrea with Sanctions – 29 July 2009
Reuters – U.S.’s UN Envoy Warns Eritrea Over Somalia Rebels – 29 July 2009
VOA – UN Ambassador Says US Committed to Peacekeeping – 29 July 2009