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Report Recommends Extension Of Monitoring Mission

Acting UN Envoy To Ethiopia And Eritrea Delivers Annan’s Latest Report To The Council

New York, Sep 26 2006 3:00PM

The acting United Nations envoy to Ethiopia and Eritrea today delivered Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s latest report to a closed session of the Security Council, which recommended extending the UN monitoring mission there for six months, and warned of the potential for disaster if the “untenable” stalemate between the two sides is not resolved.

“Azouz Ennifar, the acting Special Representative dealing with the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report…[while] the Council earlier met with troop contributing countries for that Mission,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

Mr. Annan’s latest report, which was released yesterday, covers the activities of UNMEE since March and ahead of its current end of mandate on 30 September. In it, he also highlighted the increased instability across the whole of the Horn of Africa region.

“Four years after the 2002 decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, I remain deeply concerned about the stalemate in the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process. This is an untenable situation, which, if allowed to fester, could lead intentionally or unintentionally to events with disastrous consequences for the two countries and the whole region.

“The situation in the Horn of Africa remains politically tense and fragile. The continuing conflict in Somalia and the unresolved crisis affecting Darfur contribute to the instability affecting the region. Having the foregoing facts in mind, I recommend to the Security Council that it extend the mandate of UNMEE for six months, until 31 March 2007.

Mr. Annan also said the various arrests, detentions and expulsions of UNMEE international and locally recruited staff in recent months was “particularly troubling” and he repeated calls for all restrictions on the Mission to be lifted and those staff detained to be released without delay.

In a related development, UNMEE has called on Eritrea’s authorities to cooperate with the Mission in investigating the arrest and detention last month of a staff member for “allegedly trying to smuggle Eritrean nationals out of the country,” along with new allegations against other personnel.

“The Mission has not been formally notified by the competent Eritrean authorities of the case or presented with any evidence thereon… To date, UNMEE has not been granted access to the staff member or received formal communication with specific information,” it said in a statement issued yesterday.

“UNMEE will continue to constructively cooperate with the Eritrean authorities to investigate the occurrence of any alleged wrongdoing by UNMEE officials and, at the same time, take all necessary steps to ensure that they respect the laws and regulations of the host country.”

UNMEE monitors the ceasefire along the disputed border over which the two countries fought a war from 1998 to 2000, but its work has been hampered by both sides, in particular by Ethiopia’s refusal to accept the border set by the Boundary Commission and restrictions imposed by Eritrea.


Ends

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