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Letter to UNSC members (Action Group for Eritrea - 16 November 2011)

posted 29 Jan 2012, 06:52 by D Woldeab

Dear Sir

Re: Sanctions on Eritrea

We write to express our deep concern regarding the draft resolution being circulated at the UN calling for further sanctions against Eritrea.   We are an organization with members from the British Eritrean community and friends of Eritrea aiming to promote peace and development in Eritrea.

Primarily, we believe that an imposition of economic sanctions against Eritrea will have dire consequences on the ordinary people of Eritrea who have already suffered a great deal for far too long.  Eritreans have been victims of war as well as other natural and environmental calamities such as drought in the past and subjecting them to further misery will not only be unethical but also an abuse of their basic human rights to live in peace and prosperity.

Prior to independence, Eritrea was devastated by years of war which led to extensive impoverishment of its people and destruction of vital infrastructure. The country is only now beginning to rebuild and any sanctions will surely destroy the progress it has managed to achieve so far.  While we believe Resolution 1907 (2009) has been unfair, we are therefore deeply concerned by the extent of damaging impact that any additional economic sanctions will have on the encouraging developments that have been achieved in Eritrea during the last twenty years.

Furthermore, Eritrea is well on its way to achieving food security at a time when the whole region is affected by severe famine. Whenever there is a shortfall, Eritrea has been able to import food using its meager hard currency reserve without relying on outside help.  The country has also made great strides in meeting most of the Millennium Development Goals. Education is available in all corners of the country and the number of children attending school has increased significantly.    Child and mother mortality have been slashed and some communicable diseases almost eradicated.  Imposing sanctions against Eritrea will severely affect this progress and its impact will be devastating for the most vulnerable members of the society.

Sanctions on Eritrea will also limit the ability of the country to import basic materials including medicines, agricultural products, machinery, industrial spare parts, fuel and educational materials, etc.  Eritrea’s economy will be so badly damaged because of lowered economic activity, loss of trade partners, decreased export revenue, chronic unemployment and sharp decline in GDP and GNP per capita income.  This will create instability and the economic, social and political repercussions will set the country years back.  

At a time when Eritrea’s territory is occupied by Ethiopia in direct contravention of various UN resolutions and the final and binding ruling of the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission, imposing sanctions on Eritrea based on trumped up evidences is a travesty of justice.  Sanctions on Eritrea will not bring peace to the region -   if anything, the action will inflame the fires of conflict that have been raging in our area for a very long time.  Cornering Eritrea based on highly suspect set of evidences will create anger and desperation leading to further regional turmoil which our people can do without.   

History is rife with examples of countries that have been left destitute as a result of sanctions.  All evidences suggest that sanctions never produce positive results and we are of the view that imposing them on Eritrea will literally starve its people and will be seen as a form of wanton violence by the UN aimed at humiliating all Eritreans.    We therefore ask you to consider your actions carefully and understand the agenda behind why some countries are pushing for further and tougher sanctions.

Notwithstanding the above, we are far from convinced that the charges leveled against Eritrea have been substantiated.  The Monitoring Group had accused Eritrea of sending 2000 soldiers to Somalia in 2006 which was later confirmed to be false.  The evidence provided for the accusation that Eritrea was plotting to blow up the AU conference in Addis Ababa would not stand a chance in a court of law.  It has been reported in the past that the Ethiopian government resorts to such acts with a view of incriminating Eritrea for political gain.  A report revealed by Wikileaks has disclosed that the bomb detonated in Djibouti city railway was the work of the Ethiopian government.   The American Ambassador in Ethiopia also revealed that bombs exploded in Addis Ababa could have been planted by Ethiopia’s security forces.  Ethiopia has a vested interest in drumming up such accusations against Eritrea.

Recently, Eritrea has been accused of flying three planeloads of weapons to the Somali town of Baidoa in support of Al Shabab. Again, no evidence has been presented to prove the accusation.  It defies logic how Eritrea could fly three planes crossing the air space of third countries or the Red Sea and avoid interception in a region that is under heavy surveillance by international forces. 

We call upon all Security Council members to hear the plea of Eritreans and their friends across the world to review the case and study the evidences presented very carefully before making any decision.   We appeal to your conscience to allow the people of the region to live in peace and prosperity as justice and fairness dictate that our voices be heard.

We thank you.