Global perspective Human stories

As ceasefire holds, UN working to boost peace process between Ethiopia, Eritrea

As ceasefire holds, UN working to boost peace process between Ethiopia, Eritrea

The situation in the Temporary Security Zone between Ethiopia and Eritrea remains calm without any significant problems to report, a spokesman for UNMEE, the United Nations Mission in the area, said today.

Spokesman Jean Victor Nkolo told a press briefing in Asmara that for the time being, "we do not have any very serious qualms with the movements and activity of troops from both sides." He added that the United Nations continued to work on various confidence-building measures to boost the peace process.

Responding to a reporter's question about radio broadcasts emanating from the capitals of both countries that continued to speak of "a threat of war," Mr. Nkolo said that there was obviously "a difference between what the hate discourse says" and what was actually happening on the ground. "What is clear is that people should forget the rhetoric a bit and just consider that peace itself is holding," he said. "What is going on on the ground, in the TSZ, is quite encouraging. We will make sure that that message is carried far and wide."

In the meantime, UNMEE, along with UN agencies, the international community and other non-governmental organizations, was working on various confidence-building measures and would announce some of those initiatives soon, the spokesman said.

"We may be part of the success in the peace process, but we are not the main stakeholders," Mr. Nkolo said. "The main stakeholders of the peace process are the Eritrean and the Ethiopian peoples and their respective governments. We will be more than happy to assist, but if we come across some ideas and initiatives that could work, we will announce [them] and we will try to implement them."

Meanwhile yesterday, the head of UNMEE, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, toured the Mission's central sector to meet with senior military and police officials about the progress of UN work there.

In each of his four stops, Mr. Legwaila was told about the problem of "cattle rustling," which has been going on for centuries but could cause problems if not handled properly, the spokesman said. The Indian battalion deployed in the sector has been successfully bringing together the people involved to resolve the problem.