The Security Council must take steps to solve the border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea, Djibouti said today, warning that if the row is allowed to fester it will set a dangerous precedent for other crises around the world.
Roble Olhaye, Djibouti’s Permanent Representative to the UN, told the final day of the General Assembly’s annual high-level segment that the Council needs to use “all means at its disposal” to end the stand-off between the African neighbours.
In June last year, following weeks of rising tensions and military build-up, the two countries’ armed forces clashed over an un-demarcated area in the Red Sea known as Doumeira, killing 35 people and leaving dozens of others wounded.
This January the Council adopted a resolution demanding that Eritrea pull its forces from the disputed area and cooperate with diplomatic initiatives, and welcoming Djibouti’s withdrawal of its forces to its positions before the dispute.
A UN fact-finding mission sent to the region after the dispute flared was welcomed by Djibouti but blocked by Eritrea, which refused to meet with it or with any envoy of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who offered to use his good offices to help resolve the issue.
Today, Mr. Olhaye called for the row over Doumeira – which he noted is “situated in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world” – to be resolved along the lines of the Council resolution, “without further equivocation, confusion and deliberate procrastination.”
“Inaction sets a dangerous precedent which others will surely follow in the future – deny and refuse to cooperate! The Council must not appear to be appeasing Eritrea indefinitely; this is a dangerous and an unpredictable regime that has not shown so far any respect to international norms and behaviour.”
Exercising his right of reply, an Eritrean delegate told the Assembly later today that his country “doesn’t have territorial ambitions” and it has not occupied land belonging to Djibouti. He also said that Djibouti had presented a one-sided view of the situation.
Responding further, a delegate from Djibouti said Eritrea had demonstrated a pattern of military aggression in the region since it gained independence in 1993, and accused the country of a lack of cooperation with any efforts to resolve the dispute over Doumeira.