The Switzerland government on Friday (December 7) announced the lifting of targeted sanctions against Eritrea. The government also affirmed that it was working to normalize relations with Asmara.
An official statement said the decision was largely premised on the same position as adopted by the United Nations Security Council, UNSC, in mid-November 2018.
“The sanctions – that include an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes – will be repealed as of Friday evening, said a government statement.
“The UN Security Council had imposed the sanctions in December 2009 after Eritrea was suspected of supporting armed groups like Al-Shabaab with a view to destabilising the region. A border dispute with Djibouti also helped contribute to the decision,” the statement read in part.
After nine years, the UNSC lifted sanctions on Eritrea after the UN monitoring group on Eritrea found inconclusive evidence of Asmara arming Al-Shabaab.
On the part of Eritrea and Djibouti’s diplomatic spat, signs of warming of ties as leaders of both nations met in Saudi Arabia in September also counted in the UNSC’s decision.
Switzerland also underscored its relations with Eritrean asylum seekers. “About 20,000 Eritreans live in Switzerland, the largest Eritrean diaspora in the world. In addition, Eritreans make up the largest national group of asylum seekers in Switzerland,” the statement noted.
The statement cited recent engagements with Eritrea on development cooperation and reinforcement of diplomatic presence as signs of progress in bilateral ties.
“The slow return of Eritrea to the international community fold has also had an impact on Switzerland’s asylum policy towards Eritreans fleeing compulsory military service,” the statement concluded.