The Aug. 1 AP article “Hungry Eritreans suffer in silence” is a deliberate distorted tutorial prepared on the prevailing situation in the Horn of Africa. It is important to set the record straight.
Throughout 1996 and 1997, tensions arose between Eritrea and Ethiopia over minor economic and political issues. The tensions were aggravated by a series of armed incursions into Eritrean territory from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. The significance of these incidents was made clear by the publication in Tigray in November 1997 of new maps that, for the first time, claimed significant territorial areas of Eritrea.
When all diplomatic bilateral and multiple efforts to diffuse this deepening crisis failed, Ethiopia declared war on May 13, 1998, and mobilized its armed forces for a full-scale assault on Eritrea. Three major assaults resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties and displaced 1 million Eritreans from 1998 to 2000. Another 76,000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin were expelled from Ethiopia.
With the war stalemated, Ethiopia agreed to a ceasefire in mid-June 2000. On December 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Algiers assisted by the United States, European Union and Organization of African Unity. Based on this final and binding agreement, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission issued its findings in April 2002. To date, Ethiopia has refused to implement the EEBC decision. Ethiopia still occupies sovereign territories of Eritrea. That’s why a no-peace, no-war situation prevails between the two countries now.
In November 2006, Ethiopia invaded Somalia in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1725. Historical animosity, governance, underdevelopment, displacement of population, drought and famine in Somalia were clearly aggravated. That is why the government of Eritrea and its people were left with no option except to implement a comprehensive, in-house, community-based reconstruction and development program in the last decade. This innovative local initiative might not be perfect, but it has definitely curbed famine and drought in Eritrea. Resettlement of the displaced population was successful. GDP growth is ready to take off this year. It is obvious that continued maintenance of regional peace and security, development of regional cooperation and enhancement of the environment are our future friends.
Ethiopia’s recent purchase of 200 tanks with a new game plan was announced just last month. The recycling of tanks into plowshares is the main cause of underdevelopment in the Horn of Africa. Pass the word!
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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