Switzerland lifts targeted sanctions against Eritrea

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Following a recent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution, the Swiss government has decided to lift targeted sanctions against Eritrea.

The sanctions – that include an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes – were repealed on Friday, said a government statement.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 sanctions were lifted by the UN on November 14 after no conclusive evidence of Eritrea’s support of Al-Shabaab had been reported by the specially appointed Eritrea Monitoring Group. A meeting between the presidents of Eritrea and Djibouti in September also helped convince the Security Council to drop the sanctions.

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.

Switzerland is moving towards a normalising of relations with the Eritrean government. Recent announcements on resumption of development cooperation and reinforcement of diplomatic presence point to progress in this direction. 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. (UNI)