Ethiopia told to comply with border decision

Ethiopia was criticised on Friday for ignoring an order by the international Boundary Commission to remove resettled Ethiopians from Eritrean territory.

The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), which met the two sides in London last week, said the Ethiopian government had “not complied with its obligations”.

The commission, which was set up to resolve the long-standing border dispute between both countries, had called on Ethiopia to stop the resettlements in July. At the time, it gave details of a new Ethiopian settlement in a place called Dembe Mengul, some 400 metres inside Eritrean territory, close to the controversial village of Badme.

The area was the flashpoint that sparked a bitter two-year border war which claimed tens of thousands of lives and was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting.

The two sides signed a peace accord in Algiers in December 2000 which provided for border demarcation under the auspices of the independent EEBC. The new border was announced on 13 April this year, but still has to be demarcated.

In a statement released after the London meeting, the EEBC said: “Having regard to the commission’s order of 17th July 2002, Ethiopia, in failing to remove from Eritrean territory persons of Ethiopian origin who have moved into that territory subsequent to the date of the delimitation decision, has not complied with its obligations.”

The statement also reminded the sides that they must allow access to any location in the border area.

"Any decision by the commission to inspect, whether by land or air, any location in the boundary area, and in particular Tserona [Eritrea] or Zalambessa [Ethiopia] or their environs...must be complied with," it stated.

It reiterated that the 13 April decision was "final and binding".