Eritrea Calls for Lifting of Sanctions


Yemane Gebreab, political advisor to Eritrea President Isaias Afewerki

    Peter Clottey

    A political advisor to Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki says most permanent members of the U.N. Security Council want to lift sanctions against his country.

    “It’s only fair that these sanctions be lifted because the rationale for them, which were not correct to begin with, has now been found to be totally untenable,” said Yemane Gebreab, who also is head of political affairs office at the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ).

    “It’s not only Eritrea that is seeking it but also many members of the Security Council also favor it. But we will see what will happen as the United States remains adamant in maintaining sanctions against Eritrea.”

    Gebreab cited China, Russia and South Africa, as well as other Security Council members that he said have expressed their support for the sanctions to be lifted.

    “It’s not only those countries; the majority of the members of the Security Council also believe that the time has come to lift these sanctions,” he said.

    The Security Council imposed sanctions on Eritrea in 2009 over concerns the government in Asmara had provided funds and weapons to the militant Somali Islamist group, al Shabab. Eritrea denied the allegations.
    But in a later report released later, U.N. experts said Eritrea had begun reducing its support for the Somali militant group, which the U.S. State Department considers a terrorist organization.
    Gebreab also spoke about alleged links between Eritrea and human trafficking, an issue U.S. President Barack Obama brought up in a speech last month.

    “I recently renewed sanctions on some of the worst abusers, including North Korea and Eritrea,” Mr. Obama told the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in September. “We’re partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers.  We’re helping other countries step up their own efforts.  And we’re seeing results.  More nations have passed and more are enforcing modern anti-trafficking laws.”

    But Gebreab denied any connect ion between Eritrea’s and human trafficking.

    “In fact, Eritrea is a victim of human trafficking,” Gebreab said. “For a number of years now, some people have felt that one way that they could weaken Eritrea would be by encouraging Eritrean youths to leave the country in larger numbers.”

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