22 December 2005 The military situation in and around the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) that separates Ethiopian and Eritrean forces remains tense and potentially volatile, even though Ethiopian troops have started pulling back in accordance with Security Council demands, the United Nations mission keeping the truce in the region said today.
The UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) said that the Eritrean Government’s ban on its helicopter flights is still in place, and restrictions continue on the movement of peacekeepers inside certain sectors of the TSZ.
But it added that it is still trying to monitor the area and troop movements within these limitations, conducting 779 ground patrols in the past week.
Last week the security council reiterated its demand that Eritrea rescind its restrictions on UNMEE as well as its request for the pullout of UN personnel of specified nationalities, while deciding to temporarily relocate some military and civilian staff now in that country to Ethiopia for their safety.
A 23 November Council resolution threatened actions, possibly including sanctions, against Eritrea and Ethiopia if, in the case of Eritrea, it does not immediately rescind its flight ban, and against both parties if they do not reverse their military build up.
Tensions have heightened recently between the two countries because, despite the truce, the border dispute that flared into warfare between 1998 and 2000 remains unresolved.
To settle the issue, the Security Council has continued to reiterate its support for the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission’s delimitation decision, which Ethiopia has not accepted.