Global Policy Forum

Security Council Backs UN Peacekeeping Force for Horn of Africa

Xinhua News Agency
August 14, 2000

The U.N. Security Council Monday endorsed proposals by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to establish a large peacekeeping force to monitor the June 18 accord to halt the two-year border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The Council members voiced the endorsement in an initial open debate on the proposal made by Annan on Friday last week. But they stressed that a cease-fire was not enough as the two Horn of Africa nations must forge a genuine peace and that planned U.N. force could not remain indefinitely.

Chen Xu, representative of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations, told the Security Council meeting that Annan's report was clear and specific on the U.N. Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and his proposal has generated a good framework to promote the peace process between the two neighboring countries.

"It is our hope that the Security Council, on the basis of the contacts with Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), can take actions on the secretary-general's proposal at an early date in order to officially determine the number of the Mission staff and its mandate," Chen said.

Annan, in his report to the Security Council last Friday, proposed establishing a 4,200-strong U.N. peacekeeping force to monitor an accord halting a two-year border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The U.N. chief proposed turning this into a full-scale military force of up to 4,200-strong personnel, including 220 military observers, three infantry battalions and support units, such as logistical, medical and support staff.

Andrei Granovsky, representative of Russia, said, "It is important that the detailed proposals on peacekeeping operations contained in the secretary-general's report are based on the June 18 Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and the conclusions of the United Nations reconnaissance mission to the region."

Martin Andjaba, Namibian permanent representative to the United Nations, said, "the June 18 signing of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities between the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea have been a major step towards peaceful resolution of the conflict."

The Namibian ambassador called on the two parties "to continue to demonstrate in good faith for the sake of peace, development and prosperity, not only for the two nations, but also for Africa as a whole."

Tesfa Alem Seyoum, charge d'affaires of the Eritrean Mission to the United Nations, told the Security Council it was meeting " at a time when a vast sovereignty territory of the state of Eritrea has been invaded and occupied by neighboring Ethiopia, with impunity, since last May."

Welcoming Annan's proposal for a full-fledged U.N. peacekeeping force, the senior Eritrean diplomat said that more than one million of his countrymen were internally displaced and some 95,000 others had fled to Sudan "as a result of Ethiopia's invasion which was aimed at destroying the small nation of Eritrea and the dignity of its people."

Fesseha Tessema of Ethiopia, who also voiced his satisfaction with the main elements of Annan's report, agreed with speakers who said that the war should never happen again.

"Our conscience is clear. Not only were we victims of blatant aggression but also our government and our people gave their best try to end it peacefully," he said.

Ethiopia and Eritrea, under the auspices of the OAU, signed in the June 18 cease-fire accord in Algiers to halt a conflict that has uprooted more than 1 million people.

Annan sent the reconnaissance mission to the Horn of Africa region and hammered out his report on the basis of the observations of the mission.

In his report, Annan also proposed that the mission monitor the redeployment of Ethiopian forces to the positions they had held on May 6, 1998, as well as the position of Eritrean forces, which are to remain 25 kilometers away from the redeployed Ethiopian forces.

Ethiopia and Eritrea have been locked in a border conflict since May 6, 1998, with sporadic fighting costing the two Horn of African nations tens of thousands of lives and millions of U.S. dollars in armaments.

Eritrea, an Italian colony until World War Two, was an Ethiopian province until 1993, when it became independent with Ethiopian support.

Fighting which first broke out along 965-kilometer border in 1998 flared up again in May this year, with each side accusing the other of seizing disputed territory.

The situation has been worsened by a severe drought in the region which the Ethiopian government estimates has left more than 10 million of its people in need of emergency food aid.

"The people of Eritrea and Ethiopia have suffered terrible losses during two long years of war," Annan said.

On July 31, the Security Council approved an advance part of up to 100 military observers, called the U.N. Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), to maintain liaison between the two sides and help prepare for a full-scale peacekeeping operation.

More Information on Ethiopia and Eritrea


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