The UN peacekeepers from Western nations left Eritrean territory on Wednesday December 14th 2005 after an order by the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) ruling party in Eritrea.
Almost 90 western troops have left Eritrea. The UN diplomat in Eritrea, Jean-Marie Guehenno, said he had never experienced a similar situation in 10 years in the job.

Some 180 US, Canadian and European personnel were moved to neighbouring Ethiopia. Mr Guehenno said about half of those affected were already on holiday or about to leave anyway.
Most of the UN peacekeepers monitoring the border following a war between the two countries that ended in 2000 are from Asian and African countries and these will stay.

This exercise of national sovereignty from a poor nation is seen as a big crisis in the peacekeeping mission. Is it really a crisis or an affront to the dignity of the United Nations? The troops have been moved to Ethiopia temporarily where Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian leader widely perceived as illegitimate, will welcome the peacekeepers with open arms, how interesting.

What a beautiful display of global citizenship! The same leader who has created havoc in the streets of Addis Ababa was invited to “wine and dine” at the G8 conference, as Baffour Ankomah (editor of The New African) put it. And now he will be viewed as granting refuge to poor displaced UN peacekeepers.

The question to ask is why were the peacekeepers asked to leave?

The decision of the United Nations Mission for Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) boundary commission was that the disputed territory of Badme is in fact Eritrean. Why has there been half a decade of delay on this decision? Why is the UN spending money on pricey fact-finding missions, assigning world renowned diplomats such as Lloyd Axworthy as ‘special envoy’, if the decision would not be respected, enforced and then implemented?

The Ethiopian government is now being reactive. They are reacting to Eritrea’s decision to send out the peacekeepers of dubious if not destructive nations such as the UK and US by allowing them temporary refuge. They are being reactive because they are safe in thier cozy comaraderie with the US and UK (Ethiopia receives the greatest amount of international aid dollars of all African nations)! Ethiopia has now “pulled back” its troops from the disputed border: but don’t be fooled, this is just another timely and reactive thing to do, making the big bully look like innocence is its middle name.
Power politics is what this is and I say good job to the Eritreans who have decided to exercise sovereignty despite that all odds in the political arena have been against them. And good job for making it political: picking and choosing who should leave the territory. Maybe this will give some recognition to the idleness of the UN on the border decision, even after many pleas by the Eritrean government.

Isn’t this what the UN is designed to uphold in the first place? The integrity of nations; not the lofty ideals of peacekeeping that are, in reality, inconsequential at best and destructive at worst? (read: Somalia mid 1990s)

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