Ban Ki-moon proposes extension to UN Ethiopian-Eritrean peacekeeping mission

24 January 2007

The United Nations mission monitoring the ceasefire that ended the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2000 should be extended for another six months as the stalemate in the peace process shows no sign of ending, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report on the mission’s operations.

The United Nations mission monitoring the ceasefire that ended the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2000 should be extended for another six months as the stalemate in the peace process shows no sign of ending, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report on the mission’s operations.

The continuing impasse has the potential to not only lead to renewed hostilities between the two nations, but to destabilize the wider region, especially given the recent developments in neighbouring Somalia, according to the report to the Security Council on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).

Neither side has given any indication of being willing to break the stalemate, Mr. Ban writes, with Ethiopia continuing to refuse to implement the binding decisions of the Boundary Commission and Eritrea maintaining its troop presence in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) along the border and its restrictions on the operations of UNMEE.

“The ongoing dangerous stalemate… remains a source of very deep concern,” he says, adding that the lack of progress means the situation has actually worsened since the Secretary-General’s last report on the issue, released late last month.

Ethiopia has refused to implement, fully and without pre-conditions, the Boundary Commission’s demarcation of the border with Eritrea, even though its decisions are supposed to be binding under a peace agreement that followed a two-year border war in the late 1990s.

At least 2,000 Eritrean troops are positioned inside the TSZ, along with tanks, rocket launchers and guns, while the Eritrean Government has also imposed a ban on UN helicopter flights.

Mr. Ban warns that Ethiopia and Eritrea both need to do much more than settle their border issue if they are to establish sustainable peace and reconciliation.

“The two Governments need to take the political decision to put the conflict behind them, for the sake of their own people, and move forward in a number of other areas that would help them to normalize relations.”

Given the role UNMEE plays in maintaining the ceasefire and ensuring overall stability, Mr. Ban recommends that its mandate be extended for another six months.

In the previous report, the Secretary-General proposed four options for UNMEE in the face of the intransigence of the two countries. Those choices ranged from cutting UNMEE’s strength to 1,700 personnel – down from its current total of almost 2,300 – and keeping its limited observation capability on the border to slashing it to 30 to 40 military liaison officers stationed in each capital.

 

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