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Al-Shabaab Switzerland lifts targeted sanctions against Eritrea


The normalising of relations between Switzerland and Eritrea is having an impact on asylum seekers. 


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

The sanctions - that include an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes - will be repealed as of Friday evening, said a government statementexternal link. 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. In addition, Eritreans make up the largest national group of asylum seekers in Switzerland. 

Switzerland is moving towards a normalizing 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.

Correction: a sentence has been deleted from an earlier version that stated Switzerland has the largest population of Eritreans outside of Eritrea. We have been unable to verify this claim.

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