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Djibouti: Relations with neighbouring countries (This Response replaces an earlier version dated 12 January 1999)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 February 1999
Citation / Document Symbol DJI31022.FE
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Djibouti: Relations with neighbouring countries (This Response replaces an earlier version dated 12 January 1999), 1 February 1999, DJI31022.FE, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


In November 1998, Djibouti recalled its ambassador to Eritrea and asked the government of Eritrea to reciprocate within three days (UN Nov. 1998, 3; ION 21 Nov. 1998, 2). Djibouti suspected Eritrea of helping rebels belonging to the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy-Dini (Front pour la restauration de l'unité et de la démocratie-Dini, or FRUD-Dini) carry out attacks on its territory, particularly in the north (ibid.); Eritrea accused Djibouti of supporting Ethiopia's war effort against Eritrea (UN 7 Dec. 1998, 3). In a statement that it sent to the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa (IRIN-CEA) in November 1998, the Eritrean government expressed its concern over what it called [UN English version] "Djibouti's 'unwarranted cooperation with Ethiopia in its war effort against Eritrea'" (ibid. 21 Nov. 1998, 3).

On the other hand, Djibouti's relationship with Ethiopia seems to be one of mutual cooperation; for example, according to Africa Confidential, several members of FRUD-Dini living in Ethiopia have been deported to Djibouti in accordance with the security agreements between the two countries. (6 Nov. 1998, 8). Such deportations have been condemned by the European Parliament, which passed a resolution on 18 December 1997 calling for, among other things, the unconditional release of the FRUD members and their families who were arrested in Ethiopia in October 1997 and then extradited to Djibouti, where they were imprisoned (ION 3 Jan. 1998). As far as trade relations are concerned, Ethiopia's imports, which had previously been transported through Eritrea, now go through the port of Djibouti, which has become Ethiopia's main supply route (ibid.). These imports have increased six-fold in 1998 over the previous year (Africa Confidential 6 Nov. 1998, 8).  However, Ethiopian convoys were attacked by FRUD-Dini fighters on 31 October 1998 (ibid.). Ahmed Dini, leader of FRUD-Dini, has charged that the Ethiopian army is supporting the Djiboutian army's fight against his movement in the Tadjura region (ION 19 Dec. 1998, 7).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Africa Confidential [London]. 6 November 1998. Vol. 39, No. 22. "Djibouti: Severed Supplies."

Associated Press (AP). 11 November 1998. "Foreign Minister Warns Worsening Relations with Eritrea." (NEXIS)

The Indian Ocean Newsletter (ION) (Paris). 19 December 1998. No. 838. "Djibouti: Ethiopian Military in Tadjura."

_____. 21 November 1998. No. 834. "Djibouti/Eritrea: Running Battle."

_____. 3 January 1998. No. 793. "Tough EP Resolution." (NEXIS)

United Nations, Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa (IRIN-CEA). 7 December 1998. IRIN Update No. 561 for Central and Eastern Africa. "Ethiopia-Eritrea-Djibouti: Djibouti Capable of Defending Itself." [Internet] [Accessed 8 Dec. 1998]

_____. 21 November 1998. Bulletin quotidien d'information no 550 sur l'Afrique Centrale et de l'Est. "Erythrée: Djibouti couvre Asmara d'insultes, selon le gouvernement." [Internet] . [Accessed 8 Dec. 1998]

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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