Ethiopia, Eritrea recommit to assuring UN mission's freedom of movement

6 April 2001

The Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) today stressed the vital importance for peacekeepers to be able to move freely in their area of operation, while representatives of the two countries restated their commitment to the goal.

The issue was discussed during a meeting in Djibouti of the Military Coordination Commission, which brings together UN peacekeepers with senior military delegations from Ethiopia and Eritrea and representatives of the Organization of African Unity to resolve military and technical issues relating to the peace process between the two countries.

Force Commander Major-General Patrick Cammaert emphasized the critical importance of its freedom of movement in order to succeed in monitoring the parties' security agreements. "Both parties recommitted to the principle of freedom of movement of UNMEE in its area of operations and to resolving specific incidents of restrictions," UNMEE said in a statement.

Also during today's session, the Eritrean delegation confirmed that the Eritrean Defence Forces had resumed their repositioning on 5 April in order to continue the process of establishing the Temporary Security Zone -- a 25-kilometre-wide demilitarized buffer area between the two forces.

The parties also discussed the subject of joint investigation teams, which could address possible future military incidents. In addition, they touched on the need for government institutions of both countries to identify how non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, members of the international press and others are to cross the southern boundary between the two countries. The parties agreed to raise the matter with their respective authorities.


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