New Hope for the Forgotten Ethiopian-Eritrean Conflict

Apostolic Nuncio Optimistic About Peace Process

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ROME, FEB. 4, 2002 ( A ray of hope is springing from one of the most forgotten wars — the Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict, to which John Paul II has called public attention on several occasions.

The conflict erupted in May 1998 over a border dispute. Both eastern African countries claimed Badme, a 10-square-kilometer plot of arid land, as their territory. The war has caused the death of more than 100,000 youths.

The Catholic Church and other Christian denominations have initiated a dialogue in favor of pacification and reconciliation. To date there have been two peace meetings, one in Denmark and the other in Germany. The meetings have resulted in a joint statement of recommendations, which gives hope for a solution to the conflict.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the apostolic nuncio in both countries, told Vatican Radio that the conclusions of the Commission for the Demarcation of Borders, accepted by both countries, will be published at the end of this month.

«It will be a key point that will reveal exactly the direction of the policies of these two sister countries,» the nuncio said. «The general expectation is that the two governments, the Ethiopian and Eritrean, will accept the conclusions of this commission.»

In fact, this acceptance of the conclusions, free of commentaries, was already given in Algiers in December 2000, the reason for Archbishop Tomasi´s optimism.

«At this time, the religious leaders, both Christians and Muslims, of Eritrea and Ethiopia, are working to be able to continue their meetings, which began three years ago,» the nuncio continued.

«One should be held in Ethiopia and the other in Eritrea, to give a very clear sign that what people need is peace and reconciliation, as the Holy Father said, specifically, in his message for the World Day of Peace of Jan. 1: ´Peace requires justice, but full justice requires forgiveness,´» the archbishop concluded.

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