Djiboutian Political Victory
Eritrean forces seize territory from
Djibouti in April 2008 and
withdraw in June 2010 to help facilitate the start of bilateral
Qatari peacekeeping forces are deployed to monitor the disputed area
after Eritrea's withdrawal
Commanders and leaders
Ismail Omar Guelleh
Ougoureh Kifleh Ahmed
Casualties and losses
a Logistical, medical and intelligence support only.
b No official figures from Eritrean sources.
in the Horn of Africa
Eritrean War of Independence
Eritrean Civil Wars
Ethiopian Civil War
1982 Border War
Somali Civil War
Djiboutian Civil War
Insurgency in Ogaden
Hanish Islands conflict
OEF – Horn of Africa
Eritrean–Ethiopian border conflict
Second Afar insurgency
Djiboutian–Eritrean border conflict
Djiboutian–Eritrean border conflict
Djiboutian–Eritrean border conflict between the forces of
Eritrea occurred between June 10 and June 13, 2008.[a] It
was triggered by tension which began on April 16, 2008, when Djibouti
reported that Eritrean armed forces had penetrated into Djiboutian
territory and dug trenches on both sides of the border. The crisis
deepened when armed clashes broke out between the two armed forces in
the border area on June 10, 2008. During the conflict, France
provided logistical, medical and intelligence support to Djibouti, but
did not participate in direct combat.
2 Eritrean movements in
Ras Doumeira region
3 Armed clashes
4 International reaction
6 See also
9 External links
Map of the disputed
Ras Doumeira region
The currently in force 1900 boundary agreement specifies that the
international boundary starts at Cape Doumeira (Ras Doumeira) at the
Red Sea and runs for 1.5 km along the watershed divide of the
peninsula. Furthermore, the 1900 protocol specified that Ile Doumeira
(Doumeira Island) immediately offshore and its adjacent smaller islets
would not be assigned sovereignty and would remain demilitarized. 
Eritrea had twice previously clashed over the border
area. In January 1935, Italy and
France signed the Franco-Italian
Agreement wherein parts of French Somaliland (Djibouti) were given to
Italy (Eritrea). The actual border at
Ras Doumeira (a hill) though
was never fully demarcated save for a broad agreement that the
northern slopes of hill were Italian and the southern slopes were
French and this arrangement sufficed whilst
France and Italy remained
in control of the area. However, the question of ratification has
brought this agreement, and its provision of substantial parts of
Eritrea into question. In April 1996 the Djiboutian
government accused Eritrean forces of having made a 7 km
incursion into its territory following a clash at the Djiboutian
border post of Ras Doumeira. Within two days these claims had grown
into accusations that the Eritrean government harbours a territorial
claim to part of Djibouti’s northern coastline. The allegations were
then made by the foreign affairs, Mohamed Moussa Chehem, to his
perplexed Eritrean counterpart, Petros Solomon, who was on an official
Djibouti the following day. Mr Solomon subsequently met with
the Djiboutian president, who also raised the alleged incursion. In a
series of contradictory accounts, the Djiboutian authorities said that
they had dispatched 600 troops to the area. On April 18 Mr Solomon
stated categorically in a press statement that “there has never been
any clash or incident in Doumeira”, adding that the Eritrean
government was “surprised and saddened” by the allegations.
Eritrean movements in
Ras Doumeira region
Eritrea reportedly requested to cross the border in order
to get sand for a road, but instead occupied a hilltop in the
region. On April 16,
Eritrea is reported by
Djibouti to have set
up fortifications and dug trenches on both sides of the Djiboutian
border near Ras Doumeira. Djibouti, in a letter to the UN calling
for intervention, claimed new maps put out by
Eritrea showed Ras
Doumeira as Eritrean territory.
Eritrea denied it had any problems
Ethiopia's Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi said on May 15 that the row was
a "threat to the peace and security of the whole Horn of Africa" and
Ethiopia would secure their trade corridor through
the event of a conflict.
Ethiopia has relied on
Djibouti for access to
Red Sea since Eritrea's independence. Eritrea's President Isaias
Afwerki denied sending troops into the area and added they do not have
any problem with Djibouti.
On June 10, according to
Djibouti several Eritrean troops deserted
their positions fleeing to the Djiboutian side. Djiboutian forces then
came under fire from Eritrean forces demanding the return of the
Djibouti called up soldiers and police who had retired
since 2004 in response to the fighting.
Eritrea dismissed accounts
Djibouti as "anti-Eritrean". A statement from Eritrea's Foreign
Ministry said it would not "get involved in an invitation of squabbles
and acts of hostility" and claimed
Djibouti was trying to drag Eritrea
into its "concocted animosity". According to French Colonel
Ducret, French soldiers in
Djibouti provided logistical and medical
assistance to the
Djibouti army as well as providing them with
intelligence. Clashes between the two forces reportedly continued
for several days before Djibouti's military announced on June 13 that
fighting had subsided, but on the same day, President Guelleh, was
quoted by the BBC as saying that his country was at war with
44 Djiboutian soldiers were killed and 55 wounded during the fighting.
According to Djiboutian estimates, 100 Eritrean soldiers were killed,
100 captured, and 21 defected. Djiboutian President Guelleh declared:
"We've always had good relations. But they aggressively occupied part
of our country. This is an aggression we are resisting".
Djiboutian troops with light armoured cars near the border
By 2008 the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency estimated the army was
18,000 strong (with Eritrean army strength estimated at the same time
as 200,000).
League of Arab States
League of Arab States held an emergency session in response to the
fighting and called for
Eritrea to withdraw from the border
The French foreign ministry said it was highly concerned about the
fighting. The French defense ministry announced they were
increasing their military presence in
Djibouti and increasing their
support for Djibouti's army following the border clashes. The
announcement also said
France was "preparing to deploy a forward
logistics base and a land force near the zone where the clashes took
place", adding that "its military has stepped up air surveillance over
the border to monitor the activities of Eritrean forces." Reports also
indicate that additional naval forces are being moved to the region as
well as an additional team of military surgeons.
French Defense Minister
Hervé Morin also held discussions with
Djibouti's Defense Minister Ougoureh Kifleh Ahmed, promising to
strengthen the French military presence in the country in case there
is "an escalation in the current border row." Also to reaffirm the
"very great concern of France" over the recent border incidents,
Morin, according to diplomatic sources, has "reassured his counterpart
of the full support" of his government, at the same time calling for a
"diplomatic" settlement of the issue. The two nations have a mutual
United Nations Security Council called on both sides to exercise
maximum restraint and re-establish dialogue.
State Department issued a press release condemning
Eritrea's "military aggression" saying it represented "an additional
threat to peace and security in the already volatile Horn of Africa"
and calling for
Eritrea to accept third party mediation on the border
Eritrea responded to the statement accusing the U.S. of
instigating conflict in the region. The American embassy in
Djibouti advised citizens against traveling to the northern Djibouti
Ras Doumeira is located for safety reasons.
The Peace and Security Council of the
African Union urged
Djibouti to exercise the utmost restraint and to resolve the dispute
through dialogue including fully cooperating with an AU mission sent
to the area. However, Eritrea, unlike Djibouti, had not yet accepted
the mission. Bereket Simon, special adviser to Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi of
Ethiopia told Reuters "
Ethiopia firmly believes that
such unwarranted action should be stopped immediately and peaceful and
diplomatic solution must be sought for the problem."
On June 24, 2008, the
United Nations Security Council held a meeting
at their headquarters in New York to hear a briefing of the situation,
as well as statements from the Prime Minister of
Dileita and the ambassador of Eritrea.
A UN fact-finding mission was sent to the region and issued a report
saying the standoff between
Eritrea could "have a major
negative impact on the entire region and the wider international
community" noting while
Djibouti has pulled out of the disputed area
Eritrea has not. The fact-finding mission was not allowed into Eritrea
by the Eritrean government.
United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1862 on January
14, 2009, urging dialogue between the two countries to solve the issue
peacefully. The council welcomed Djibouti's withdrawal to positions
before June 10, 2008, and demanded
Eritrea make a similar withdrawal
within five weeks of the resolution.
On 23 December 2009, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on
Eritrea for providing support to armed groups undermining peace and
reconciliation in Somalia and because it had not withdrawn its forces
following clashes with
Djibouti in June 2008. The sanctions were to
imposed an arms embargo, travel restrictions and a freeze on the
assets of its political and military leaders.
In early June 2010,
Eritrea agreed to refer the matter to
Qatar for mediation, a move that was praised by the African Union.
In March 2016, 4 Djiboutian prisoners of war captured during the
border war were released by
Eritrea eight years after the
Following the 2017
Qatar diplomatic crisis,
Qatar withdrew its
peacekeeping forces from the disputed territory. Shortly after,
Eritrea of reoccupying the mainland hill and Doumeira
Foreign relations of Djibouti
Foreign relations of Eritrea
Eritrean Defence Forces
Djibouti Armed Forces
^ Other name combinations are also used for this conflict which is
also described as a war, border war, and dispute, including
Eritrean-Djiboutian conflict, Eritrea-
Djibouti war and
^ a b c "Africa
Djibouti in 'war'". BBC News. June
13, 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
^ What Is an Expensive, Idyllic Resort Doing in Eritrea?
Djibouti hands 267 Eritreans over to UNHCR, April
14, 2014. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
^ a b c "Djibouti-
Eritrea border skirmishes subside as toll hits
nine". Agence France-Presse. June 13, 2008. Archived from the original
on 2008-06-15. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
^ a b c "US condemns
Eritrea 'aggression'". BBC News. June 12, 2008.
Retrieved June 15, 2008.
^ "International Boundary Studies for most of the world". Archived
from the original on September 24, 2008. Retrieved November 15,
^ Langer, William L. (1948). An Encyclopaedia of World History.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 990.
Eritrea boundary row re-emerges". April 28, 2008.
Retrieved August 15, 2009.
^ "The Eritrea-
Djibouti border dispute" (PDF). Institute for Security
Studies. September 15, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2009. [dead
^ "Horn of Africa neighbours clash". Al Jazeera English. June 10,
2008. Archived from the original on 2008-06-11. Retrieved June 15,
^ "Face to face conflict that threatens the sea lanes". The Scotsman.
June 1, 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
Djibouti war claim". BBC News. May 8, 2008.
Retrieved 29 October 2016.
Ethiopia says ready to secure route to
Djibouti port". Reuters. May
15, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
^ a b "Two dead in Djibouti,
Eritrea border clash". Reuters. June 12,
2008. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
France says supporting
Djibouti in clashes with
Eritrea - Summary".
The Earth Times. June 13, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
Djibouti president accuses
Eritrea over border fight". Reuters.
June 14, 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
^ "UN urges restraint in Eritrea-
Djibouti clashes". Middle East
Online. 13 June 2008. Archived from the original on May 28, 2009.
Retrieved October 28, 2009.
France reinforces military in
Djibouti following border clash".
Xinhua. June 14, 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
Eritrea urged to withdraw from
Djibouti border". Reuters. June 12,
2008. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
United Nations Security Council Verbatim Report 5908. Peace and
security in Africa S/PV/5908 June 12, 2008. Retrieved September
Djibouti Border" (Press release). United States
Department of State. June 11, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
Eritrea denounces US 'meddling' in Horn of Africa". International
Herald Tribune via the Associated Press. June 13, 2008. Retrieved June
^ "US citizens warned on travel in Djibouti". NJ.com via the
Associated Press. June 12, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
^ "AU urges Djibouti,
Eritrea to resolve border dispute through
dialogue". Afriquenligne. June 13, 2008. Retrieved June 15,
United Nations Security Council Verbatim Report 5924. S/PV/5924
June 24, 2008. Retrieved September 15, 2008.
Eritrea conflict threatens region". Middle East Times.
September 21, 2008. Archived from the original on September 21, 2008.
Retrieved September 15, 2008.
^ Security Council Urges Djibouti,
Eritrea To Resolve Border Dispute
Peacefully, UN, 14 January 2009.
^ Security Council Imposes Sanctions on
Eritrea over Its Role in
Somalia, Refusal to Withdraw Troops Following Conflict with Djibouti
African Union Praises Eritrea,
Djibouti Border Mediation". Voice of
America. June 7, 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
^ Gebre, Samuel (March 21, 2016). "
African Union Welcomes Eritrea's
Release of Djiboutian Prisoners". Bloomberg.com.
Eritrea in territorial dispute after
leave". Reuters. June 16, 2017.
A Conflict’s Buffer Zone: Rocks, and Inches (by Jeffrey Gettleman,
The New York Times)
Eritrea - Djibouti, ConflictMap, A bibliography of articles on