Home | News    Thursday 9 November 2006

Eritrea accuses UN peacekeeping missions of ’neo-colonialism’

Nov 8, 2006 (ASMARA) — Eritrea has launched a stinging verbal attack on UN peacekeeping missions, accusing them of "neo-colonialism," espionage and prolonging war in a new broadside against the world body.

In a new sign of deteriorating relations between Asmara and the United Nations, the state-run Eritrea Profile newspaper called such missions a "lucrative business" that use "war and genocide as a form of trade."

The paper vehemently opposed the deployment of UN peacekeepers to Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, saying the proposed move, rejected by Khartoum, was an "evil plot" aimed at compromising Sudanese sovereignty.

"There are no rules that regulate the duration of their stay nor are there any serious initiatives taken to terminate such missions once they have overstayed their welcome," it said in an editorial.

"Peacekeeping forces have become tools for perpetuating unrest and conflicts as well as a source of information and espionage," the paper said. "In short, peacekeeping missions have become the means to neo-colonialism."

The editorial came a week after Eritrea, which mediated a peace deal between Khartoum and eastern rebels, offered to mediate the Darfur conflict that has left at least 200,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced since February 2003.

Although it did not refer specifically to UNMEE, the UN peacekeeping mission that monitors the tense border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the editorial was also published amid increasing tension between Asmara and the world body.

Since late August, Eritrea has arrested and held for several weeks one UN staffer, expelled five others for alleged espionage and reacted angrily when UNMEE forces shot dead an Eritrean man the mission said had forcibly broken into one of its offices.

At the same time, the United Nations has expressed growing frustration with Eritrea, accusing it last month of a "major breach" of a ceasefire with arch-foe neighbor Ethiopia for sending troops into a demilitarized buffer zone.

The UN Security Council has demanded their withdrawal, but Asmara has refused and has still not complied with nearly year-old demands for it to lift restrictions on UNMEE patrols under threat of sanctions.

Eritrea’s actions have come as it steps up accusations that the United Nations and the United States are failing to enforce provisions of a 2000 peace deal that ended its bloody two-year border war with Ethiopia.