Expressing deep concern over reports that Eritrea has moved around 1,500 troops and 15 tanks into the Temporary Security Zone with Ethiopia, the United Nations Security Council today called for them to be withdrawn and urged both sides to exercise restraint in their long-standing border dispute that erupted into a two-year war in 1998.
“Members… call on Eritrea to immediately withdraw its troops from the Temporary Security Zone, to extend its full and unconditional cooperation to the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), particularly to maintain ceasefire arrangements in place, and to immediately lift the restrictions imposed on UNMEE,” Council President for October, Ambassador Kenzo Oshima of Japan, said in a press statement.
“Members of the Security Council call on both parties to show maximum restraint and to refrain from any threat or use of force against each other, to avoid any action which may lead to an escalation of the tension between the two countries, and to adhere to previous commitments they have made.”
Echoing concerns raised by Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday, the Council warned that the incursion is contrary to the agreement on cessation of hostilities of 18 June 2000, and it also violates the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone.
“Members of the Council once again reaffirm the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone and their unwavering commitment to the peace process, including in the full and expeditious implementation of the Algiers Agreements and implementation of the final and binding decision of the EEBC (Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission).”
The Council also called on Ethiopia to implement fully the EEBC decision demarcating the boundary.
In his latest report on the conflict, Mr. Annan repeated concerns that Ethiopia had not accepted the Commission’s decisions, and that Eritrea refused to continue to cooperate with the body. Last year Eritrea restricted UNMEE’s use of helicopters, impeding its ability to monitor 50 to 55 per cent of the area on the Eritrean side within the Temporary Security Zone.