UN Mission signs agreement with Eritrea on militia and police

17 April 2001

The United Nations today signed an agreement with Eritrea outlining the rules of interaction between UN peacekeepers and Eritrean law enforcement and security elements.

The new protocol, which covers activity in the 25 kilometre wide buffer zone area to be known as the "Temporary Security Zone" (TSZ) envisaged between the two countries, was signed by the head of the UN Mission in the two countries (UNMEE), Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, and by the Eritrean Commissioner for Coordination with UNMEE, Andebrhan W. Giorgis.

According to a press release issued today by UNMEE, the Protocol underlines UNMEE's freedom of movement in the TSZ and covers issues such as the types of weapons that can be carried by militia and police within the zone. It also outlines procedures for handling incidents where persons attempt to enter the zone with arms.

The agreement stipulates that all members of UNMEE have "complete freedom of movement" within the TSZ and across its lines, both north and south. This covers free and direct land and air passage.

Further, UNMEE notes, there is to be "no interference" to the peacekeepers executing their tasks from any party within the TSZ, be they police, militia, customs/finance or immigration officials.

UNMEE's peacekeeping tasks as listed in the Protocol include monitoring the TSZ, particularly key and sensitive points, through the use of checkpoints and patrols; ensuring full respect for the agreed upon limits of the TSZ; and investigating incidents and violations. Militia and police are to fully cooperate with the peacekeepers as they carry out their tasks. Liaison officers are to be appointed to each peacekeeping force company and battalion.

In another development, a reconnaissance team for a recently-established neutral commission to determine the boundary between Ethiopia and Eritrea has arrived in Asmara, Eritrea.

A UN spokesman said the purpose of the three-member team's visit is to collect information so that the Ethiopia-Eritrea neutral Boundary Commission can draw up a "plan of action" for the technical on-site activities required to delimit and demarcate the border between the two countries.

The Commission will base its recommendation on pertinent colonial treaties and applicable international law, in accordance with its mandate, the spokesman said.

 

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