Global Policy Forum

UN to Complete Force Deployment in Horn of Africa

November 17, 2000

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said here Friday that with the continued cooperation from Ethiopia and Eritrea, the United Nations is expected to complete the deployment of its peacekeeping force and military observers in the region by early next year. Annan, speaking to an open U.N. Security Council meeting, said, "The military deployment is also proceeding on schedule."

"As of today, some 120 United Nations military observers have been deployed to the two countries, and the first troops will begin to arrive soon," he said. "With the continued cooperation of the two countries, the deployment of UNMEE (the U.N. Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea) is expected to be completed by early next year, up to an authorized strength of 4,200 troops, including up to 220 military observers," he said. "Military teams from several troop contributing countries -- Canada, Denmark, Jordan, Kenya, the Netherlands and Slovakia -- have already undertaken reconnaissance missions for their deployments," he said. "The situation on the ground appears to have stabilized in recent weeks."

However, "the humanitarian conditions in both countries remain a source of serious concern," he said. In Eritrea, there are more than 300,000 internally displaced persons, some of them accommodated in camps and others in host communities or scattered around the country. In Ethiopia, some 350, 000 people have been displaced.

"The most critical obstacle to their safe return and the resumption of normal life is the presence of land-mines and unexploded ordnance areas along the border," he said. "It is therefore imperative to ensure early de-mining and to conduct mine awareness programs in these areas," he said. UNMEE has begun to conduct de-mining surveys. The Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have established national commissions for de- mining.

Annan will begin a four-day visit to both Ethiopia and Eritrea on December 4, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said here Friday.

The U.N. Security Council in September authorized the deployment of up to 4,200 peacekeeping force to monitor an accord halting the two-year border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in Algiers, capital of Algeria, on June 18, under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity, to halt a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, uprooted more than a million people.

More Information on Ethiopia and Eritrea


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