OEA Press Release on the FORUM at Capitol Hill
February 19, 2004

The Organization of Eritrean Americans (OEA) and Americans for Peace in Africa (APAF) hosted a forum entitled “Peace in the Horn of Africa-Implementation of the Eritrean Ethiopian Boundary Ruling”, at the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill yesterday. The panelists and speakers included Professor Suleiman Nyang from Howard University, Mr. Ron Phillips, Senior Policy Advisor - Armed Services Committee, and Mr. Melvin Foote, President, Constituency for Africa. The speakers raised a number of important topics including the sanctity of colonial boundaries; the importance of a speedy demarcation of the Eritrean Ethiopian border in accordance with the Boundary Commissions’ final and binding decision of April 2002; and the need for stability and peace in the region.

Professor Nyang presented three issues: Implications for Peace in the Horn of Africa, Lack of implementation of the Boundary Commissions decision and HR 2760-Resolution of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Dispute Act of 2003, a Bill introduced by Representatives Tom Lantos (D-California) and Donald Payne (D-New Jersey) and co-sponsored by Representatives Edward Royce (R-California) and Eliot Engel (D-New York) that calls on Eritrea and Ethiopia to abide by the final and binding Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission decision or face economic sanctions. Professor Nyang welcomed HR-2760 and called it a “timely” legislation that could bring peace and much needed stability to the Horn of Africa.

Mr. Ron Phillips recalling his recent trip to Eritrea praised President Isaias Afworki and the people of Eritrea for “hard work and dedication of the people despite the problems” and for their “ingenuity, enthusiasm and commitment”. He talked about Eritrea’s history and Eritrea’s recognized borders which have existed for over 100 years. He also stated that Eritrea was “a very important part of our [US] security goals in the Horn and also throughout the Middle East.”

Mr. Melvin Foote, a Pan-Africanist, also reiterated the importance of a speedy demarcation of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border and called for peace in the Horn of Africa. Mr. Foote emphasized the importance of African unity. Dr. Haile Mezghebe moderated the discussion and noted that for the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia, peace was a prerequisite to addressing the many humanitarian and development challenges facing both nations.

A Press Release calling for a peaceful resolution to the Eritrea-Ethiopia dispute by Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), who was unable to attend the event, was read to the audience.