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Nobel Peace Prize in 2019: My Experience in Eritrea

Nobel Peace Prize 2019 has been awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr. Abiy Ahmed Ali for his effort to resolve 20-year-long border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. I congratulate the Norwegian Nobel Committee for conferring the award to him.
  I was in Eritrea as senior faculty from 2005 to 2007 and observed both Ethiopia and Eritrea had awful relation as a sequel under United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), Indian army was posted as peace –keeper. It is pertinent to mention that fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia erupted in May 1998, as a result of border dispute. The Secretary-General of Security Council immediately contacted the leaders of the countries, urging restraint and offering assistance in resolving the conflict peacefully. Despite all efforts, the fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia erupted again on 12 May 2000.

      While I was in Eritrea many locals (Eritreans) told against Ethiopian rulers but they highly appreciated our armed personnel. Our army had great image in Eritrea.  I visited our army camp two times – one on Republic Day and in another time I had the opportunity to visit for my ailment (little injury in eye while playing volleyball).  During the time of my visit medical staff after examining me gave some medicines - eye drops and tablets at free of cost; in addition they offered me tea and snacks also. Within couple of days I was cured. I was joyous to observe their hospitality.
After completion of my assignment from Eritrea, I came back to my home town in Hyderabad but still following news etc. about Eritrea and Ethiopia. Anyhow when Mr. Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in Ethiopia in April 2018, he made it clear that he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea, so he was in close touch with Mr. Isaias Afwerki, the President of Eritrea. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea are not economically strong so the war had created huge economic loss to both the countries in addition to death of thousands. According to,wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrean%E2%80%93Ethiopian_War, “Eritrea claimed that 19,000 Eritrean soldiers were killed during the conflict; most reports put the total war casualties from both sides as being around 70,000. All these figures have been contested and other news reports simply state that ‘tens of thousands’ or ‘as many as 100,000’ were killed in the war”. Whatever the number of casualties but damage was severe, human lives were lost, property was damaged, citizens of both the countries suffered.  Mr. Abiy Ahmed Ali immediately after becoming President took some positive steps. The steps inter alia were a) in May, 2018 he ordered to free thousands of political detainees, including opposition leader Andargachew Tsege b) in June, 2018 he lifted state of emergency two months early and in same month he agreed to give disputed territory to Eritrea c) in 2018, July he along with the Eritrean President declared ‘the end of war between the two countries’, d) also in September itself, he arranged to reopen land border with Eritrea. Mr. Abiy Ahmed’s another praiseworthy contribution was appointment of women members to half of ministerial posts. I personally feel awarding Noble Peace Prize to such peace activist of 43 years aged-person is a great step by the Noble Committee. Hope peace will prevail in entire Africa and thus all the 54 countries will economically flourish. All rational persons and all regions never endorse war, terrorism, violence etc. I remember the statement of one of Saudi’s top Islamic clerics, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, who told “Islam does not allow terrorism at any cost. Islam condemns all violence and terrorism plaguing the world today. Muslims should demonstrate a love for peace and unity,”
I wish to conclude by quoting Swami Vivekananda, “Lovers see this world as full of love, and haters as full of hatred; fighters see nothing but strife, and the peaceful nothing but peace."
Dr. Shankar Chatterjee
Former Professor& Head (CPME)
NIRD &PR,
Hyderabad-500 030
Telangana, India