UN Calls For Responsibility in Enforcement

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
November 19, 2001

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin told the United Nations General Assembly at its 56th session in New York on 15 November that Eritrea was assembling its armed forces along its border with Ethiopia. "Under these circumstances, lack of vigilance on the part of UNMEE [United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea] and its policy of appeasement appear to be making another round of fighting close to inevitable," he warned.

He called on the UN in its role of "co-guarantor of the Algiers peace agreement signed between the two countries last year to shoulder its full responsibility to ensure that the agreement is scrupulously followed". Mesfin assured the Assembly that Ethiopia would remain faithful to the peace process and to the "scrupulous implementation" of the agreement, but insisted that it also reserved "its rights of self-defence".

Speaking at same venue on 16 November, Eritrean Foreign Minister Ali Sayyid Abdallah described the Ethiopian accusations as "baseless" and "designed to hide Ethiopia's plans to subvert the peace process by provoking hostilities". He said Eritrea had consistently undertaken in good faith to fully comply with the provisions of the peace agreement.

Meanwhile, following private meetings with the Ethiopian and Eritrean foreign ministers, the UN Security Council has called on the two countries to be more flexible in the peace process, with a view of consolidating the significant progress made so far, a press release said on 16 November. Speaking on behalf of the members of the Council, the current Council President, Ambassador Mignonette Patricia Durrant of Jamaica, urged the two sides "to contribute to the further implementation of the of the Algiers agreement in a practical and constructive manner, and to exercise restraint in their public statements", according to the press release.

The members of the Council "reiterated their full support [for] and confidence" in UNMEE, and noted the mission's intention to continue monitoring the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and adjacent areas to ensure compliance with the agreement, the press release quoted Durrant as saying.

The members of the Council expressed particular concern that monitoring of the 15-km adjacent area to the north of the TSZ continued to be restricted. An UNMEE spokesman, Jean Victor Nkolo, told IRIN on Friday that while the overall situation in the TSZ was "calm", UNMEE forces in Eritrea had been denied freedom of movement 33 times between the 8 and 14 November in areas adjacent to the TSZ.

In another development, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had repatriated 312 Eritreans from Ethiopia. According to an ICRC press statement on 17 November, the operation took place at Mereb river crossing, between the towns of Rama (northern Ethiopia) and Adi Kwala (southern Eritrea). ICRC delegates had first ascertained the willingness of the returnees to be repatriated, said the statement.

More Information on Ethiopia and Eritrea

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