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UN lifts sanctions on Eritrea

United Nations, United States | AFP | The UN Security Council on Wednesday lifted sanctions on Eritrea following a landmark peace deal with Ethiopia and a thaw with Djibouti that have buoyed hopes for positive change in the Horn of Africa.

The council unanimously adopted a British-drafted resolution lifting the arms embargo, all travel bans, asset freezes and targeted sanctions against Eritrea.

Eritrea and Ethiopia hailed the decision as a boost for regional stability, four months after the two countries signed a peace deal that ended two decades of hostility and led to friendlier relations with Djibouti.

Addressing the council after the vote, Eritrea’s Charge D’affaires Amanuel Giorgio said his government had long considered the sanctions “unwarranted” and declared: “the long overdue call for justice is finally answered.”

Eritrea “is determined to redouble its own efforts and work closely with its neighbors to build a region at peace with itself,” said Giorgio.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement that “the lifting of sanctions will have far-reaching effects in improving the stability of the Horn of Africa” and normalizing relations.

The council slapped sanctions on Eritrea in 2009 for its alleged support of Al-Shabaab insurgents in Somalia, a claim Asmara has long denied.

The resolution acknowledged that UN monitors have “not found conclusive evidence that Eritrea supports Al-Shabaab” and declared that the sanctions and arms embargo ended with the adoption of the measure.

“The current developments will have, definitely, ripple effects in terms of economic progress, prosperity as well as human rights,” Ethiopian Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie told reporters.

UN officials have reported serious abuses by the Eritrean government that have triggered a major exodus of Eritreans from their country.

– UN keeps eye on Djibouti
Ethiopia and Somalia strongly supported calls to end sanctions, and negotiations over the past two weeks focused on addressing concerns about Djibouti.

The resolution calls on Eritrea and Djibouti to press on with efforts to settle a 2008 border dispute and asks Asmara to release information concerning Djiboutian soldiers missing in clashes a decade ago.

At France’s request, the council will hear a report every six months on Eritrea’s efforts to normalize relations with Djibouti, where France, the United States and China all have military bases.

Djibouti is asking the United Nations to help broker a final settlement with Eritrea to agree on land and maritime boundaries and resolve a dispute over the Doumeira Island, Ambassador Mohamed Siad Doualeh told the council.

The fate of 13 remaining Djiboutian prisoners in Eritrean custody must be addressed, he added.

Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s, and war broke out later that decade over a border dispute.

A 2002 UN-backed boundary demarcation was meant to settle the dispute for good, but Ethiopia refused to abide by it.

A turnaround began in June when Ethiopia announced it would hand back to Eritrea disputed areas including the flashpoint town of Badme, where the first shots of the border war were fired.

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