Global Policy Forum

UN Peacekeeping Mission to Attempt


By Abebe Andualem

Associated Press
January 31, 2001

Senior Ethiopian and Eritrean military officers will hold a crucial meeting next week in Nairobi to discuss a United Nations proposal on the redeployment of their forces and the establishment of a temporary security zone, according to a U.N. statement Wednesday.

The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) said it had presented Ethiopia and Eritrea with an assessment of their plans to redeploy their forces after signing a peace agreement ending their 2 1/2-year border war and the establishment of a temporary security zone between the two Horn of Africa neighbors.

On the basis of its assessment, UNMEE force comander Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert will convene a meeting of the military coordination commission Tuesday in Nairobi, the statement said.

It remains to be seen whether the Ethiopians and Eritreans attending the meeting will accept the proposal.

The military coordinating commission's second meeting in the Kenyan capital ended in deadlock Dec. 28 when Eritrea objected to Ethiopia's redeployment of its forces from Eritrean territory which it had occupied during last May during a major offensive. This has resulted in the delay in setting up the security zone and an impasse in the peace process.

UNMEE said the assessment was offered as ''a good faith'' effort to get the peace process moving.

''UNMEE has called on both sides to accept the temporary line with the same good faith, recalling their repeated expressions of full trust in the United Nations.

''The assessment is not intended in any way to contribute to or prejudge the final delimitation and demarcation of the Ethiopian- Eritrean border. Its unique purpose is to assist in drawing two temporary lines to delimit the temporary security zone,'' the statement said.

The U.N. mission emphasized that the temporary security zone to be established under its propsal will be used to separate the two forces and allow the U.N. mission to fulfil its madate of monitoring the June 18 cessation of hostilities agreement and the Dec. 12 peace agreement signed by the two countries.

The majority of UNMEE's 4,200 peacekeeping force will be deployed in the temporary security zone to monitor the redeployment of Ethiopian forces and the repositioning of Eritrean forces.

The war, ostensibly over the 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) border, broke out in May 1998. Five years earlier, Eritrea had gained independence from Ethiopia after a 30-year guerrilla war. The border between them was never formally demarcated.

More Information on Ethiopia and Eritrea
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