I am starting this article by quoting two lines from Bloomberg, (11/7/2020), “A treaty that earned Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 is failing to meet the expectations of neighboring Eritrea”. “Two years after the signing of the Peace Agreement, Ethiopian troops continue to be present in our sovereign territories”.
For the benefit of readers few lines about Eritrea may be stated as I was in Eritrea as senior faculty (teaching job) from 2005 (February) to 2007 (January) and observed both Ethiopia and Eritrea had awful relation as a sequel under United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (popularly kwon as UNMEE), Indian army was posted as peace –keeper. Every year 26 January and 15 August our army used to celebrate by inviting all Indians with sweets, followed by lunch. I remember in 2/3 occasions, I visited our army camp for simple treatment and was treated well with free medicines also with tea and snacks. I also observed unity among diversity in Indian army camp as army personnel for their prayers constructed (temporary structure) temple, mosque, church and gurdwara side by side.
Eritrea, located in the horn of Africa i.e. in north-east Africa, lies in between 12º and 18º North latitude and 36º and 44 º East longitudes. The country is having more than 1000 Kilometers of coastal line along the Red Sea with about 350 off shore islands. Besides Red Sea, which is located east and northeast side of Eritrea; it shares boundaries with Sudan in the North and West and Ethiopia and Djibouti in the South. The name Eritrea has been derived from the ancient Greek word ‘Red’ named after ‘Erythrean Sea’ i.e., Red Sea. It is pertinent to mention that the Red Sea is the saltiest sea of all the seas that connect to the ocean without even one river meeting the sea. A hypothesis about the origins of the Red Sea’s name is that it contains cyanobacteria called Trichodesmium erythraeum, which turns the normally blue-green water a reddish-brown. Not only I, my wife (Jagaddhatri) and son (Tushar Subhra) were charmed to see the beauty of Red sea in 2006. Total Area of Eritrea is 117,600 square kilometers with estimated total population (2014) 63.80 lakh and density of population was 51.8 persons per square kilometers (2014).
Up to 16 September 2018 both Eritrea and Ethiopia had awful relation. Border skirmish was regular events while I was there. Unfortunately, conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia erupted in May 1998, as a result of border dispute. The Secretary-General of Security Council immediately contacted the leaders of the countries, urging restraint and offering assistance in resolving the conflict peacefully. Despite all efforts, the fighting erupted again on 12 May 2000 and unfortunately 100,000 people died during the time of conflict. Anyway on 17 September 2018 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, peace agreement by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki was signed and thus long drawn conflict was over.
Although about peace, Bloomberg and other news channels stated some issues between the two countries, hope good sense will prevail so that no conflict takes place as any conflict, war, brawl etc., causes loss of human lives, destruction of assets and thus hinders development.
The following books and websites have been consulted while writing the article-
- Chatterjee, Shankar (2008)“Islamic Republic of Iran & Eritrea: A Glimpse”, Published by Serials Publications, New Delhi (ISBN no. 978-81-8387-120-4)
- Chatterjee, Shankar (2018)“Pleasing Experience in Magnificent Countries” Renu Publishers, New Delhi, (ISBN No. 978-93-85502-93-4)
Dr. Shankar Chatterjee
Former Professor& Head (CPME)