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Eritrea releases 1 UN staff member of 11 held

Eritrea releases 1 local UN staff member of 11 held, UN mission says

The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) monitoring the disputed border said today that one of the Eritrean employees detained by the Eritrean authorities without explanation for more than a week has been released without comment.

The mission has been awaiting a response from the Eritrean authorities to its letters asking why they had arrested 11 local staff members and expressing the hope that all would be released.

Negotiators from the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission were scheduled to meet in London, meanwhile, to seek progress in the border dispute which led to a war between the two Horn of Africa countries in the late 1990s. A binding decision by the Commission in 2002 awarded Badme – the town that triggered the bitter, two-year war – to Eritrea.

Eritrea has become increasingly critical of the UN for not forcing Ethiopia to accept that demarcation and has subsequently restricted UNMEE’s movements by land and air.

In a unanimous vote yesterday, the Council decided that if the parties have not fully complied with a November 2005 resolution calling for the recognition of the boundary decision and the lifting of restrictions on UN personnel in the light of the outcome of the Boundary Commission’s London meeting, it would “adjust the mandate and troop level” of the more than 3,000-strong UNMEE by the end of this month.

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