09 December 2005
The situation at the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea remains “dangerous” – being the most militarized border in Africa. So says Matt Bryden – Director of the U.S. based International Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Project. Mr. Bryden told Voice of America reporter Ashenafi Abedje the troop size of both countries along the border is now estimated at about 200-thousand.
The Eritrean government’s recent decision to expel peacekeepers from the region has further fueled fears of a resumption in hostilities. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is dispatching two senior peacekeeping officials to the region. The head of U.N. peacekeeping operations Jean-Marie Guehenno, and military adviser General Randir Kumar Mehta are to assess the situation along the Ethio-Eritrean border. Mr. Bryden says their mission indicates the U.N.’s growing concerns about the future of its operations in the region.
The Horn of Africa specialist says despite the gathering clouds, both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have “continued to exercise restraint.” He says neither government seems anxious to provoke the other to war. Mr. Bryden adds however, Eritrea’s recent decision to expel U.N. peacekeepers further undercuts the efforts of UNMEE – the U.N. Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.