SEMG says there is no evidence of Eritrea support for Al-Shabab

For the fifth consecutive mandate, the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea was not permitted to visit Eritrea to meet with representatives of the Government or conduct investigations. Despite the call by the Security Council, in resolution 2317 (2016), for a review of sanctions on Eritrea and efforts by the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea to encourage the Government of Eritrea to engage constructively with both the Group and the Committee, the stalemate persists.
Throughout its current mandate, the Monitoring Group investigated allegations by a neighbouring Member State of support provided by Eritrea to Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Despite receiving some corroborating information from another regional Member State and regional administrations in Somalia, the Group has not been able to substantiate the allegations. As such, the Group has, for its fourth consecutive mandate, not found conclusive evidence of support provided by Eritrea to Al‑Shabaab.
The Monitoring Group has also not found evidence of large shipments of weapons or ammunition to or from Eritrea in violation of the two-way arms embargo established pursuant to paragraphs 5 and 6 of resolution 1907 (2009).
The Monitoring Group found evidence of external support, in the form of both training and technical equipment, provided to, or intended for, the Eritrean military. The Group also found evidence indicating the potential military use of rotary-blade aircraft overhauled by Member States in 2016. In the light of the measures taken by the Government of Eritrea to conceal the military associations of the aircraft, however, the Group is not implying that authorities of these Member States violated the arms embargo.
The Monitoring Group maintains that the establishment and continuing expansion of a military base of the United Arab Emirates near the port city of Assab, which involves the transfer of military materiel to and exchange of military assistance with Eritrea, constitutes a violation of the arms embargo.
Eritrea continued to provide support to armed groups intent on destabilizing Ethiopia and Djibouti, including the Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD-Armé), Patriotic Ginbot Sebat (PG7) and the Tigray People’s Democratic Movement. While none of these groups poses a critical threat to either Djibouti or Ethiopia, the support of Eritrea for them continues to generate insecurity in the region and undermines the normalization of relations between regional Member States.
The impact of the Gulf crisis reverberated throughout the Horn of Africa and affected developments during the mandate, particularly those relating to the implementation of resolution 1862 (2009). On 13 June, the withdrawal of the observer forces deployed by Qatar on the Djibouti side of the Djibouti-Eritrea border led to an escalation of tensions between Djibouti and Eritrea. Evidence available to the Monitoring Group indicates ongoing activities on the Eritrean side of the border at Ras Doumeira.
The lack of clarity that has persisted on the mediation role of Qatar within the framework of the agreement of 6 June 2010 created new uncertainties for the implementation of resolution 1862 (2009). Brief progress in 2016 on the transfer of remaining prisoners of war from Eritrea to Djibouti has also stalled.
Since the adoption of resolution 2023 (2011), the Monitoring Group has documented a chronic lack of transparency in the mining sector, which has continued during the current mandate. The limited transparency that exists in the mining sector has been facilitated by the reporting of foreign corporations. The Group is consequently able to report that Eritrea is obtaining revenue from its mining sector, but is unable to prove that such funds are being used to finance specific violations of sanctions.
Given that the Monitoring Group has been unable to find conclusive evidence of Eritrean support for Al-Shabaab in Somalia for four consecutive mandates, the Group recommends that the Security Council consider disassociating the sanction regimes for Eritrea and Somalia. The Group recommends establishing a separate Security Council sanctions committee and a separate monitoring group on Eritrea.

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