Update on Djbouti-Eritrea

Last week, we flagged press reports about new fighting on the Djibouti-Eritrea border, apparently sparked when Eritrean soldiers raided a Djibouti border town. Following the clashes, the United States (which has a special forces base in Djubouti) condemned Eritrea’s “military aggression.” The Security Council also issued a presidential statement to the same effect.

Today, the Security Council is expected to take up the matter again. The ever-valuable Security Council Report analyzes the Council dynamics at work during this debate.

There is broad sympathy in the Council for Djibouti’s situation, and strong concern about the need to avoid escalation of the recent fighting. Members also seem increasingly alarmed by the potential for a generalised conflict in East Africa, not the least involving Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti. Most members seem frustrated about and alienated by Eritrea’s actions.

One option in the minds of some members has been a fact-finding mission, but it is unclear if and when members will be ready to adopt a statement or a resolution. This is likely to depend on the prospects of current regional efforts as well as the situation on the ground.

In related news, the Council considered on Monday a plan to officially disband the United Nations Mission to Eritrea/Ethiopia (UNMEE), which was forced to withdraw from Eritrea this spring after Asmara effectively cut off its access to fuel. The council took no immediate action though.