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Eritrea: AU and UN welcome release of Djibouti prisoners

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

March 20, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – The African Union and United Nation have welcomed the release by Eritrean authorities of four prisoners from Djibouti.

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The four Djiboutian prisoners of war, who had been in Eritrean jail since 2008, were released after long mediation efforts from Qatar.

They were flown to Djibouti Friday by a Qatari plane accompanied by Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohamed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani. The four were detained in connection to a border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has welcomed the move taken by Eritrean authorities and commended Qatar for the role it played in this respect.

“The Chairperson of the Commission considers that the release of the Djiboutian prisoners is a positive step in the right direction within the process of normalization of relations between the two countries and in this context, she calls on the parties to clarify the fate of any remaining prisoners and to also release them,” said Zuma.

In 2008, Eritrea and Djibouti engaged in armed conflict over territorial disputes.

In 2010, Eritrea and Djibouti signed a peace deal in Doha and hundreds of Qatari peace keepers were deployed to their disputed borders.

Zuma called for the full implementation of the peace deal, which the two neighbours signed in 2010 under the auspices of Qatar and underscored needs for continued and expedited efforts in this respect.

“The Chairperson of the Commission pledges, once again, the AU’s commitment to assist Djibouti and Eritrea normalize their relations and promote good neighbourliness within the framework of the relevant AU instruments,” she added in the statement.

In a separate statement, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday equally welcomed the release of the four Djiboutian prisoners.

Ki-moon commended Qatari’s mediation efforts in brokering the process.

“He hopes this will help address other regional outstanding issues between the Republic of Djibouti and the State of Eritrea and enhance regional peace and security in the Horn of Africa,” the UN chief said in a statement.

In 2014, the Djiboutian government freed over 260 Eritrean prisoners of war and handed them over to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

(ST)

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