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AU deploys fact-finding mission to Eritrea-Djibouti border, calls for calm

Diplomatic tension

The African Union (AU) has intervened in the Eritrea-Djibouti territorial dispute saying it has deployed a mission to their border to “establish the facts” while calling for calm and restraint.

The AU Commission said in a statement on Saturday that Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat is available to both countries to help “normalize their relations and promote good-neighbourliness.”

“The AU Commission, in close consultation with the Djibouti and Eritrean authorities, has undertaken to deploy a mission to the Eritrea-Djibouti border to establish the facts,” the statement added.

Djibouti accused neighbouring Eritrea on Friday of occupying disputed territory along their border after Qatar withdrew its peacekeepers.

Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf said Djibouti’s military were “on alert” and that they had lodged complaints to the United Nations and the African Union.

Qatar announced that it was pulling its contingent out on June 14, days after the two East African countries sided with Saudi Arabia and its allies in their standoff with Qatar.

Eritrea has not yet responded to these statements.

Djibouti is a close ally of the West as it hosts French and U.S. military bases and is the main route to the sea for Eritrea’s foe, Ethiopia.

Eritrea, on the other hand, fell out with the West after it was accused of supporting regional insurgents, which it denies.

Clashes broke out between the two countries in 2008 after Djibouti accused Eritrea of moving troops across the border.

A dozen Djiboutian troops were killed and dozens wounded after several days of fighting.

The United Nations Security Council intervened and requested both countries to withdraw from the area. In 2010, they agreed to allow Qatar to mediate and deploy peacekeepers in the area pending a final agreement.