Military situation in area separating Ethiopia from Eritrea 'potentially volatile' – UN

29 December 2005

The military situation in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) separating Ethiopia and Eritrea remains “tense and potentially volatile,” a spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping mission there, which has been forced to relocate some staff because of Eritrean demands, said today.

The military situation in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) separating Ethiopia and Eritrea remains “tense and potentially volatile,” a spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping mission there, which has been forced to relocate some staff because of Eritrean demands, said today.

Troop movements have been noticed on both the Ethiopian and Eritrean sides, an UNMEE spokesman told a press briefing in the region today. The two countries fought a bitter war between 1998 and 2000 over a border dispute which remains unresolved to this day.

Eritrea's ban on UNMEE helicopters, which the Security Council and Secretary-General have vehemently opposed, remains in place, while UNMEE patrols face restrictions on their movements.

Despite these constraints, the mission carried out 765 ground patrols throughout its area of operation over the past week. In all sectors, UNMEE peacekeepers continued to provide medical assistance to the local population, along with supplies of bulk water to civilian communities in the TSZ and adjacent areas.

Meanwhile, the mission's officer-in-charge has been holding talks on the peace process. Ambassador Azouz Ennifar met on 27 December with, Arman Aardal, the Chargé d'Affaires of Norway, and on 22 December with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tekeda Alemu.

Earlier this month, the Security Council, in a presidential statement, decided to temporarily relocate some military and civilian staff now in that country to Ethiopia for their safety. The Council also reiterated its previous condemnation of Eritrea's requested pullout of UN personnel of specified nationalities, as well as the country's ban on peacekeeping flights.

 

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