Djibouti Eritrea Border War

The Djibouti Eritrea Border War was of short duration from 10th - 13th June 2008, however reflected an ongoing uneasy tension between the two neighbours for many years.

In the course of the conflict forty four Djibouti soldiers were killed and some fifty five were injured. The war centred on the disputed Ras Doumeira area on the Red Sea coast; an area Eritrea had launched a surprise 'attack' on in April prior to the war.

The dispute can be traced back to 1900 when the colonial powers France (French Somaliland, now Djibouti) and

Italy (Eritrea) deemed that the international boundary between them should start at Ras Doumeira, but the protocol left Doumeira Island and its surrounding islets as unassigned to either country however they would remain demilitarised.

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 after independence the unresolved border became problematic.

Although there had been simmering resentment between the two nations over the Djibouti Eritrea border since independence, the first major crisis came in April 1996 when Djibouti accused Eritrea of shelling Ras Doumeira almost leading to all out war however the two nations stepped back from the precipice until 2008 when Eritrea crossed the Djibouti border claiming it required sand for road building.

Djibouti claimed that far from crossing the border merely for sand Eritrea dug ditches and set up fortifications on both sides of Ras Doumeira to claim it as its own. Both sides then moved their troops into the area and a standoff ensued before the inevitable fighting broke out during which Eritrea suffered heavier casualties with a reported hundred soldiers killed and a further hundred captured.

Whilst Eritrea has one in every fifteen of its citizens in the armed forces, militarily Djibouti is much weaker, and as an ally of Ethiopia, is despised by Eritrea, making its government vulnerable to attack. However in this short war some reports indicated that that the French Foreign Legion in Djibouti provided logistical support to the Djibouti troops.

Following the conflict Djibouti approached the UN and requested assistance in patrolling the disputed area. They concurrently withdrew to territory held before June 10th 2008 and the UN requested that Eritrea do the same, however Eritrea refused.

It took until June 2010 for Eritrea to pull out and both sides agreed to allow Qatar to mediate the dispute with Qatar deploying its troops in the interim until the dispute can be resolved, not least because Eritrea saw Qatar as a possible route out of its growing isolation which may effect its booming gold trade.


Djibouti Eritrea Border
The disputed Ras Doumeira area

Djibouti Eritrea Border

Djibouti Eritrea Border

Djibouti Eritrea Border

Djibouti Eritrea Border


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Djibouti Eritrea Border

Djibouti Eritrea Border

About the Djibouti Eritrea Border War of 2008 over disputed territory between Eritrea and Djibouti together with a Djibouti Eritrea border war video documentary


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