14 March 2008 The Security Council has called for Eritrea’s full cooperation in the temporary relocation of the personnel and equipment of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).
“The members of the Council recognize the difficult burden which has been carried by the UN troops being relocated and express their appreciation to the troop-contributing countries,” Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which currently holds the rotating monthly presidency of the 15-member body, told reporters after a closed meeting yesterday.
The Council was briefed by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on the ongoing efforts to relocate UNMEE forces.
The statement also noted that Council members underscore that the temporary move is “without prejudice to the Algiers Agreements,” which ended the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The decision to temporarily move UN personnel and equipment out of Eritrea was made last month after the country cut off fuel supplies to UNMEE, paralyzing the operation on that side of the disputed border with Ethiopia.
As of earlier this week, over 700 blue helmets – 397 Jordanian and 305 Indian peacekeepers – have temporarily returned to their respective countries from Eritrea, and UNMEE announced that more flights out of Asmara are scheduled for next week to fly remaining UN personnel home.
In his latest report to the Council on UNMEE made public on 6 March, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon characterized Eritrea’s hindrance of the temporary relocation of UNMEE peacekeepers as “unacceptable,” noting that the country is obliged under an agreement signed in 2000 to treat the peacekeepers with respect and dignity, guarantee their safety and security, and ensure their right to move freely and perform their mandated tasks.
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