[dehai-news] (France24) An Ethopian-Eritrean war looms again


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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Fri Nov 14 2008 - 08:16:09 EST


video report:
http://www.france24.com/en/20081113-report-ethiopia-eritrea-war-looming-un-mission-withdrawal-badme
Eritrea
- Ethiopia An Ethopian-Eritrean war looms again

Thursday 13 November 2008
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.

Thursday 13 November 2008
By FRANCE 24

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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