UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council urged Eritrea and Djibouti on Monday to resolve their border dispute peacefully following the withdrawal of peacekeeping troops from Qatar.
Djibouti accused Eritrean troops of occupying the Dumeira mountain area shortly after 450 Qatari peacekeepers left last week and lodged a formal complaint with the African Union. Qatar, which is caught up in its own diplomatic clash with other Arab nations, had mediated a territorial dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea.
The Security Council said in a statement after a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook Zerihoun that it welcomed the African Union’s intention to deploy a fact-finding mission to the Djibouti border.
Council member said they look forward to coordinating with the AU “to maintain an atmosphere of calm and restraint.”
The Security Council said it would also welcome “the consideration of future confidence-building measures” and will continue to follow the situation closely.
The Qatari forces had been deployed on the Djibouti-Eritrean border for seven years to monitor the implementation of a ceasefire agreement signed in Qatar in June 2010 and to pursue a negotiated political settlement.
In a statement sent Saturday to The Associated Press, Eritrea’s information ministry said the Horn of Africa nation has not received any explanation from Qatar on its “hasty” withdrawal, which it said occurred “against the backdrop of a turbulent climate.”
Eritrea’s top diplomat to the African Union, Araia Desta, said the country has not cut ties with Qatar. Eritrea has also said it doesn’t want a confrontation with Djibouti.
The rebel Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization, known as RSADO, which opposes the Eritrea government, called on the international community to prevent a new border conflict between Djibouti and Eritrea.
But the group said in a statement that “for the border-straddling Afar people” the greatest threat is the continuation “of the last 26 years oppressive regime rule” of Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki.