"Abeden", No, Never: Badma won't be a Kashmir, a Palestine or a Cyprus
By: Ghidewon Abay-Asmerom
October 30, 2005

Eritrea has shown maximum patience and restraint throughout the Ethiopian occupation. The measures it takes to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity are not tactically motivated posturing but rather acts of self-defense, recognized as much by the UN Charter.”-- President Isaias Afwerki in a letter to President of the UNSC, 28/10/2005.

All the huffing and puffing by Kofi Anan and the Security Council over Eritrea’s decision to ground UNMEE helicopters glosses over the real problem: Ethiopia’s refusal to demarcate the border according to the Boundary Commission’s Delimitation Decision and schedule.

Had the Security Council enforced its resolutions we could have had a demarcated border three years ago and we wouldn’t be talking of UNMEE today. The reason UNMEE is in the area is being forgotten. UNMEE is in Eritrea not to keep peace but to facilitate demarcation.

Let it be clear, UNMEE had no, has no, and can have no capacity and ability to prevent war.  If the aim is to keep peace then the camping, flying and night-patrolling by UNMEE should be inside Ethiopian leaders’ mind not on the ground. It is the rejection of the final and binding EEBC Decision by Meles and his fellow gangsters that is at the root of all these problems.

The UN Security Council has to begin enforcing its Resolutions. Financing peacekeepers for decades, UNMEE included, will bear no fruit. It might be shocking but there are UN missions that are almost six decades old and without anything to show for their long presence. If this tells a story it is that the UN Security Council has failed miserably. It is neither keeping peace nor preventing violence in our planet.

In the case of UNMEE, with all due respect to those involved, there is nothing it can show for its five-year stay in the region. For sure it has squandered one billion dollars at a rate of two hundred million dollars per year.  Let us be clear, the main reason it came for, the demarcation activity which was supposed to take only 6-12 months, is still in limbo 60 months later.

If Kofi Anan had his way UNMEE would be in the Horn forever like, for example, UNTSO (the UN mission in Palestine since 1948), UNMOGIP (the UN mission in India and Pakistan since 1949) or UNFICYP (the UN Mission stationed in Cyprus since 1964). The Eritrean people and government cannot allow UNMEE to stay in its sovereign territory indefinitely. Badma will never be allowed to become another Kashmir, or Palestine, or Cyprus, a perpetual UN occupied territory. UNMEE should complete the task it came for, then leave. It has no business of overstaying. This is Eritrea’s message. The UN could do a lot with the $200 million it is wasting to support a mission that should have been wrapped up three years ago.

Indeed as US Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Bolton said it two weeks ago, the UN Security Council “needs to use this [Eritrea’s grounding of UNMEE helicopters] as a pivot point to find a way to end, [and] to resolve the boundary dispute... and move on rather [than] have an indefinite peacekeeping force" in the area.

The issue of demarcation has been ignored now for three years and it is time for the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility without any further delay and preconditions. It should stop dwelling on peripheral and tangential issues of UNMEE movements forgetting the central issue of unconditional and expeditious demarcation.