16 June 2017

Djibouti Says Eritrea Seized Disputed Territory

Photo: Al-Jazeera
Djibouti and Eritrea

Djibouti has accused Eritrea of occupying disputed territory along their border after Qatar withdrew a peacekeeping force earlier this week.

Djiboutian officials say Eritrean troops took control of Dumeira Mountain and Dumeira Island on Wednesday, a day after Qatar removed 450 soldiers who had controlled the territories for the past seven years.

Qatar did not give a reason for the move, which came after Eritrea and Djibouti sided with Saudi Arabia in an ongoing diplomatic dispute between Qatar and its larger neighbor.

Complaint with UN

Djibouti’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mohamed Siad Doualeh, told VOA that his country has lodged a complaint with the United Nations Security Council.

“I made sure that the president of the security council has all the facts, as well as the secretary-general,” he said.

In a follow-up email, Doualeh wrote, “We expect the secretary-general and the security council to pay maximum attention to the situation, and urge the parties to ensure that there is no military presence and activity in the area.”

The African Union has appealed for calm, and in a statement said it is “in the process of deploying a fact-finding mission to the Djibouti-Eritrea border.”

VOA reached out to Eritrean officials for comment but has not received any response.

Battle in 2008

Eritrean and Djiboutian forces clashed for four days in June 2008, after Djibouti said Eritrea deployed troops across the border.

Qatar offered to help mediate the dispute in 2010, and the two African nations agreed to let Qatari troops deploy in the contested area. Plans to take the dispute to arbitration, however, never materialized.

Doualeh said Eritrea still holds 13 prisoners from the 2008 fighting and has not let them communicate with their families.

He called on Eritrea to release the prisoners and end its occupation of Dumeira.

“We are very much willing to peacefully resolve the dispute with Eritrea in a manner that is consistent with international law,” he said.

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