Eritrea got an unwelcome Christmas present from the UN Security Council, when in a 13-0-1 vote the council opted for sanctions until such time that the country “ceases arming, training, and equipping armed groups and their members including al-Shabab.” China reportedly abstained in the vote and predictably Libya, in a false understanding of solidarity, voted against the resolution, which nevertheless passed with a sufficient majority. Eritrea was previously already sanctioned by the African Union and then suspended their membership in the continental body, when their regime failed to cooperate with fact-finding missions and ever more allegations and circumstantial evidence of arms smuggling and training of Somali militant Islamic militias piled up.
Regime leaders and collaborating businesses are now also subject to travel bans, and a freeze of assets is reportedly underway for both individuals, as well as companies.
Only recently did the entire Eritrean national football team defect in Kenya after the CECAFA football tournament, incidentally won for a record 11th time by Uganda, and all players reportedly asked for and have since then obtained political asylum from the Kenyan government. In fact, Eritrean diplomats were in the more recent past expelled from Kenya for activities contrary to their diplomatic status.
The Eritrean regime is considered one of the harshest and most totalitarian on the entire continent and is still in dispute with their neighbors Ethiopia over border demarcations, which led to a war between the two countries. Compared to the overall population of Eritrea, the country produces the most refugees on a per capita basis in Africa, in itself a sign that all is not well in this country.
In response, the regime issued a statement which said the sanctions may “engulf the region into another cycle of conflict,” and it can only be hoped that this is not a promise but an empty threat.