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Local UN staff detained by Eritrean authorities

Two local UN staff detained by Eritrean authorities, border remains tense – UN

Eritrean authorities are still detaining two locally recruited staff from the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), a UN official said today, but they have released 25 others.

In UNMEE’s weekly briefing, a Deputy Spokesperson also said that the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) between Ethiopia and Eritrea “remains tense,” and Eritrea’s ban on the Mission’s helicopter flights was still in place.

“During the last week, a total number of 27 locally recruited UNMEE staff was arrested by the Eritrean authorities for varying durations. As of today, two national staff members have not reported for duty,” said Musi Khumalo from the Eritrean capital Asmara.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bitter border war between 1998 and 2000 and the TSZ now separates the two countries. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a recent report to the Security Council, offered a number of options for coping with the current stalemate, ranging from redeployment to total withdrawal of UNMEE.

Eritrea has increased its criticism of the UN for not forcing Ethiopia to accept the border delineated in 2002, awarding Badme – the town that triggered the border conflict – to Eritrea.

In addition to the ban on over flights by its helicopters, UNMEE patrols also face restrictions on their movements.

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