African nation allowed use of land, airspace, UN report says
Potential violation of UN resolutions if compensation misused
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are paying Eritrea to help fight its anti-Houthi military campaign in Yemen in an agreement that may violate United Nations sanctions against the Horn of Africa nation, according to a UN report.
Eritrea is allowing the Arab coalition to use its land, airspace and territorial waters in a “new strategic military relationship with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea said in its report published Oct. 21. The arrangement would violate Security Council resolutions if Eritrea diverted the compensation “towards activities that threaten peace and security,” it said.
A request for comment from the Saudi-led coalition in Riyadh wasn’t answered. The U.A.E’s national media office and Eritrea’s Information Ministry didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment.
Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. struck the deal with Eritrea earlier this year after failing to arrange a similar accord with its neighbor Djibouti, according to the report. Eritrea receives fuel and financial compensation in return for its support, which includes providing 400 soldiers who “are embedded with the United Arab Emirates contingent of the forces fighting on Yemeni soil.” The report didn’t give further details on the payments.
Eritrea, situated along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes on the Red Sea, is less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) across the waterway from Yemen at its closest point. Sanctions were imposed on the country in 2009 after the government was accused by the UN of sending 2,000 troops to Somalia to support an insurgency by al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Sudan, which also borders Eritrea, is part of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, providing aircraft and deploying at least 300 infantry troops, according to its military. The alliance is trying to reinstate the government of President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi, which crumbled after Houthi rebels overran the capital, Sana’a, last year, forcing him to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Eritrean citizens fleeing forced labor and conscription in the northeast African nation make up the third-biggest source of migrants who crossed into Europe by sea in the first six months of 2015, after Syrians and Afghans, according to the UN Refugee Agency.