Accessibility links

Breaking News

Eritrea Envoy Urges UN to Lift ‘Unfair’ Sanctions

Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki (r) being Interviewed by VOA`s Peter Clottey (l) in New York.
Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki (r) being Interviewed by VOA`s Peter Clottey (l) in New York.

Eritrea’s envoy to the United Nations says his country is vindicated following a recently-released preliminary U.N. report that found insufficient evidence that Asmara provided weapons to Somalia militant group al-Shabab last year.

Eritrea has often maintained its innocence over accusations it supports militant groups including al-Shabab, which accusers say destabilizes not only Somalia, but the entire Horn of Africa region.

Ambassador Araya Desta says the Security Council imposed sanctions on Eritrea were largely based on what he calls fabrication and mischaracterization.

“We have never had any time or situation where we have been supporting the al-Shabab or any other group in Somalia because that is against our own political stance,” said Desta. “We believe the Somali issue could not be solved militarily. We have been continuously saying that Somalia should be given a venue to discuss their own issues and that the solutions should come from the Somalis themselves.”

In November last year, Kenya accused Eritrea of sending air supplies of weapons to the al-Shabab held town of Baidoa in southwestern Somalia.

But, in its report, the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea says it did not have sufficient evidence to confirm that allegation.

The coordinator for the UN Monitoring Group, Matt Bryden, said “multiple credible reports” show no flights have taken place at the time specified. The group was set up in 200 by the UN Security Council to monitor violations of arms embargo imposed on Somalia.

“We as government and people support the Somali people and wish to see peace and stability and a government in Somalia. If we are looking for such peace and stability, how can we destabilize Somalia?” asked Desta. “Eritrea has never ever sent financial or [military] support to any group in Somalia.”

Asmara was accused by some of its neighbors of acting as a catalyst to destabilize the Horn of African region.

Erigrea described last year sanctions as yet another attempt to thwart the government’s development agenda aimed at improving living conditions.

“The more Eritrea succeeds in its development and prosperity, the more conspiracies and misguided policies against her are concocted by special interests in the U.S.,” said information minister Ali Abdu.

Ambassador Desta said he is working closely with officials of the Security Council to lift what he describes as unfair sanctions on Asmara.

“We have been going to the Security Council telling them to lift these sanctions because they were based on fabrication by Ethiopia and supported by the bigger nations,” said Desta.