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ICP Again Asks UN of Eritrea - Ethiopia & Tsorona, Transcript Here

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 14 -- Amid new war reports between Eritrea and Ethiopia, on which the UN has previously failed, Inner City Press on June 13 and June 14 asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Tsorona.

On June 13 in response to this Inner City Press question, Dujarric said the UN is aware of the reports and calls for adherence to 2000 agreements, which he didn't specify and which the UN never enforced. Video here.

Then Inner City Press asked again on June 14. UN transcript:

Inner City Press: Yesterday, I'd asked you about this conflict on the border of Eritrea and Ethiopia, and you'd said the 2000 [agreement]… when you say that we have contacted both sides, can you give a little more detail?  Is it DPA [Department of Political Affairs]?  And number two, going back and looking at it, this boundary commission that ruled on what the border should be seemed to have stopped work in 2007.  Ban Ki-moon made a statement in 2008.  Has anything been done further on actually enforcing that judgment?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware of any further updates.  Contacts are had at various levels.  I'm not going to go into the details.  What I will tell you is that the Secretary-General has a meeting scheduled with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia tomorrow in Brussels.  It was prescheduled prior to this current crisis.  But, obviously, it will be brought up during the meeting, and we will… it will be reflected in the readout of the meeting.

On June 14, the US State Department issued this statement:

"The United States is gravely concerned about the military action that took place on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, June 12 and 13.  As both Ethiopia and Eritrea are party to the 2000 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and there cannot be a military solution, we call for both sides to exercise restraint and engage in political dialogue.  We also urge both Ethiopia and Eritrea to cooperate in promoting stability and sustainable peace in the region."

On June 14, Inner City Press asked the UN again, for a description of the contacts, for anything Ban has done to seek enforcement of the border judgment, and what he was doing now.

Dujarric told Inner City Press, "I'm not aware of any further updates. Contacts are had at various level, I'm not going to go into the details. The Secretary General has a meeting scheduled with Prime Minister of Ethiopia tomorrow in Brussels. It was pre-scheduled prior to the current crisis but it will be brought up during the meeting and will be reflected in the read-out of the meeting." We'll see.

From the June 13 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: There's reported fighting on… in a place where the UN used to have a peacekeeping mission on the border of Ethiopia and Eritrea.  And given the past death count of such fighting, is the UN aware of it?  Have they reached out to either country?

Spokesman:  Yes, we definitely are aware of it.  I think the Secretary-General's clearly concerned by the reports of fighting along the border.  The UN is reaching out to both parties to try to ascertain the details of the developments, because, obviously, we've just seen the press reports as of now.  And the Secretary-General calls on both Governments to exercise maximum restraint and work to resolving their differences through peaceful means, including the full implementation of the peace accord signed by the parties, I think, in 2000.

Inner City Press:  Sure.  Including the border dispute?

Spokesman:  The full… 

Then Dujarric cut off an Inner City Press question about, well, why the UN has dissembled on its reasons to try to disallow future Inner City Press questions. To this has Ban's UN sunk.

This too: last week Ban Ki-moon agreed to drop Saudi Arabia from its Children and Armed Conflict annex, for killings in Yemen, after what Ban called financial pressures. So Ban has created a situation in which UN human rights shaming lists are only for countries too poor to be able to get themselves off the list. To this, then, has Ban's UN sunk.

  Eritrea is on the Security Council's agenda, so one would expect a less lackadaisical response. But despite being on the agenda, as Inner City Press exclusively reported in April, a Council visit was Banned.

  While the Security Council discussed Somalia, behind the scene the next president of the Council for May, Egypt, has proposed a Council trip to Somalia, Egypt, and at least initially Eritrea, Inner City Press was exclusively told.

But the US balked at the inclusion of Eritrea and it was dropped.

In the Council chamber, UN envoy to Somalia Michael Keating said   “Last week, Somali leaders from all federal member states and interim regional administrations reach agreement on the electoral model to be used later this year. Voting will take place not just in Mogadishu, but in each of the capitals or seats of government of the exiting and emerging federal member states. And thirty percent of the seats in Parliament are being reserved for women.
  “This progress is taking place amid great insecurity - another reason why progress is reversible. Al Shabab remains a potent threat. Although facing significant casualties, Al Shabab continues to carry out repeated asymmetic and conventional attacks. They will try to disrupt an electoral process that they see rightly as threatening their agenda.”

  The trip would have included Eritrea not only because it is on the Council's sanctions list, even amid admissions of no proof of support to Al Shabab, but also because of Yemen and regional peace and security. But the US, the sources tell Inner City Press, did not want a Council trip to include Eritrea. We hope to have more on this.


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