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UN to Eritrea: reverse planned flight restrictions

Security Council urges Eritrea to reverse planned flight restrictions on UN mission

The Security Council today called on Eritrea to reverse its decision to restrict helicopter flights by the peacekeeping UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) in its air space.

In a statement read out on behalf of the Council, its president for October, Ambassador Mihnea Ioan Motoc of Romania, warned that the measures, set to take effect tomorrow, “will have serious implications for UNMEE’s ability to carry out its mandate and for the safety of its staff.”

Eritrea’s decision gravely contravened the Council’s previous call on both parties “to provide UNMEE with the access, assistance, support and protection required for the performance of its duties,” according to the statement.

Eritrea’s decision also contravened the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities the two Governments signed in Algiers on 18 June 2000, the Council said.

The Council urged both Eritrea and Ethiopia to show maximum restraint and refrain from any threat of use of force against each other.

Both parties bear the primary responsibility for implementing the Algiers Agreements and the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission in 2002, the Council said, underlining the need to implement the Commission’s decision on demarcating the boundary without further delay.

The Council further called on both parties to normalize their relationship fully through such means as political dialogue leading to the adoption of more confidence-building measures.

Last month as the Council extended the five-year-old UNMEE’s mandate to monitor the Temporary Security Zone between Ethiopia and Eritrea until mid-March, it expressed concern about the high concentration near to the zone of troops from the two countries.

At that time, the Council urged both Governments to refrain from escalating tensions or threatening to use force and to consider returning to the deployment levels that had prevailed as of late last year.

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