18/08/09

BBC NEWS

An international tribunal in The Hague has ruled that Eritrea will have to pay Ethiopia millions of dollars in compensation for war damages.

Both were ordered to pay each other damages for the 1989-2000 border war, but the verdict leaves Eritrea with $10m (£6m) more to pay.

The ruling covers compensation for businesses and goods lost and villages destroyed during the bitter conflict.

Eritrea has already said it accepts the ruling of the tribunal.

The Claims Commission, set up at the end of the war, ruled on awards across a range of issues.

It gave a monetary value to the damage suffered by Ethiopians during a notorious incident when Eritrean jets dropped cluster bombs on a school in the town of Mekele.

It also awarded Eritreans living in Ethiopia, whose homes and properties were seized by the government.

Some claims – such as an Ethiopian demand for $1bn of environmental damage – were dismissed.

In total Ethiopia was awarded $174m, while Eritrea got $164m – a net payment to Ethiopia of just over $10m.

The chief legal adviser to Ethiopia, Don Pickard, said he did not think the amount reflected the level of damage suffered by Ethiopia during the war.

BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says the real tragedy is that the money, like the rest of the internationally supported peace process, will settle very little.

The border between the two countries is still in dispute and tens of thousands of troops remain entrenched along the border, over its bleak mountains and deserts.