[dehai-news] France24.com: Video-An Ethopian-Eritrean war looms again


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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Nov 14 2008 - 06:09:47 EST


An Ethopian-Eritrean war looms again
14 November 2008

http://www.france24.com/en/20081113-report-ethiopia-eritrea-war-looming-un-mission-withdrawal-badme

Since the withdrawal in July of the United Nation's Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the two countries' armies find themselves in a dangerous face-off.
Every morning these Ethiopian soldiers inspect the road which connects the town of Badme to the rest of the country. They fear commandos sent by neighboring Eritrea may have hidden land-mines. The threat is real: a few weeks ago three civilians died as their car was blown-up by an anti-tank mine.

Since the withdrawal in July of the United Nation's Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the two countries' armies find themselves in a dangerous face-off. The memory of the 1998-2000 war, which caused the death of about 80,000 people, is still on everyone's mind.

Checkpoints, roadblocks, vehicles systematically searched: the Ethiopian army is everywhere in Badme. And this despite a UN Boundary Commission's ruling that Badme belongs to Eritrea. In Badme it is still the Ethiopian flag adorning the top of official buildings.

For the local authorities there's no question: this was and will always be Ethiopia. Tilahun Guebremedhin, President of the Badme district council says: "For all times, Badme has been Ethiopian. It has a massive significance for us Ethiopians; it is the symbol of the integrity of our country. "

"I would rather die than to see a portion of my land going to the other side." The wounds left by the Eritrean occupation are still on everyone's minds. Many lost a relative or a friend during the surprise attack led by the troops of Asmara in 1998. Many here are afraid of another war, yet they openly back up their army.

Mamite Guebresarkan, a farmer says: "Of course I'm worried. They conduct frequent infiltration missions here. But whatever happens we will remain here, it is our land, our country. Victorious or not we'll live and die here."

Negussa Guebreselassie, farmer and member of an Ethiopian militia, says: "We always expect the war to start again. During the war my wife was shot by Eritrean soldiers. She suffered a lot and it was very difficult to have her treated."

By the time the UN local mission ended its operation here more than six months ago, it no longer had the means to keep up with its peacekeeping initiative: the Eritrean authorities were doing all they could to hinder its action. And despite what it had declared, Ethiopia was refusing to acknowledge the new borders. Despite the fact that ten thousand residents before the war now only number 4,000, Badme has resigned itself to endure another war.

Letay Kidane, a shopkeeper, says: "It's good if the border problem is solved through a peaceful dialogue. Otherwise, I myself will support and help our soldiers up to the frontline."

People are psychologically gearing up for war. An entire division of the Ethiopian Army has taken position in a nearby fortified hill. Only a few kilometers away, the Eritrean Army is waiting.

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