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Border tension between Ethiopia, Eritrea continues

Border tension between Ethiopia and Eritrea continues, UN says

The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has reported that the military situation in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) separating the two countries continues to be “tense and potentially volatile,” about a month after Eritrea demanded the pullout of UN personnel of certain nationalities.

Troop movements have been noticed on both the Ethiopian and Eritrean sides, an UNMEE spokesman told a press briefing in the region on Thursday. The two countries fought a bitter war between 1998 and 2000 over a border dispute which remains unresolved to this day.

Eritrea's ban on UNMEE helicopters, which the Security Council and Secretary-General have vehemently opposed, remains in place, while UNMEE patrols face restrictions on their movements.

Nonetheless, UNMEE carried out 760 ground patrols in the past week, and peacekeepers are still providing medical help and supplies of bulk water to the local population in the TSZ and adjacent areas.

UNMEE adds that the Eritrean authorities didn’t respond to a request to evacuate by air an Indian soldier who had suffered serious burn injuries.

This is the seventh such occasion when a casualty had to be evacuated by road over long distances due to the lack of aerial medical evacuation facilities, the mission said.

Jean Marie Guehenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, will brief the UN Security Council on the situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea on Monday, 9 January.

The Secretary-General, in a recent report to the Council, offered a number of options for coping with the current stalemate, ranging from redeployment to total withdrawal of UNMEE.

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