Eritrea undermined basis of UN peacekeeping mission's mandate – Security Council

UNMEE peacekeepers

1 May 2008 – Recalling its prior condemnation of Eritrea's hindrances, the Security Council said the country's ongoing obstruction of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has dealt a blow to the blue helmets' mandate.

The restrictions posed by Eritrea have induced UNMEE to relocate temporarily, according to a statement read out last night by Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa, which held the rotating presidency of the Council for April.

“The Security Council will, in the light of consultations with the parties, decide on the terms of a future UN engagement and on the future of UNMEE,” he noted.

The 15-member Council said that it is prepared to help the sides break the stalemate, but warned that – as it has in previous statements – the two countries are responsible for reaching a “comprehensive and lasting settlement” of their border dispute and for normalizing their relations.

Calling on the Horn of Africa neighbours “to show maximum restraint and to refrain from any threat or use of force against each other,” the statement urged Ethiopia and Eritrea to follow up on commitments made in the 2000 Algiers Agreements, which ended the war between the countries.

Last week, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno told reporters following a closed Security Council meeting on the situation between the parties that “now we are reaching the end of what peacekeeping can achieve,” given Eritrea's announcement that it no longer supports the UN peacekeeping presence.

He noted that peacekeeping can only make a difference if the countries involved have made a political commitment.

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