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Relocation Of UN Mission From Eritrea Has Begun

Temporary Relocation Of UN Mission From Eritrea Has Begun - Ban Ki-moon

New York, Feb 14 2008 - The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has begun temporary relocating personnel and equipment from Eritrea to sites on the Ethiopian side of the border because of fuel restrictions imposed by the Government in Asmara, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today.

Mr. Ban said in a statement that he "regrets that the relocation has become necessary despite the letter he addressed to President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea on 21 January seeking his urgent intervention to resolve the situation."

Asmara cut off diesel fuel supplies to UNMEE last December, paralyzing the mission. Its advance units started moving by road on 11 February, while UNMEE's main body began its relocation earlier today.

"The Secretary-General stresses the important conflict prevention role UNMEE plays in promoting regional stability," the statement noted. "However, without the fuel needed to conduct its operations, the mission has been effectively immobilized and rendered unable to carry out its critical functions."

Thus far, some of the mission's convoys have been able to cross into Ethiopia without difficulty, while others have been stopped.

Yesterday, the UN Secretariat held talks with Eritrea's Permanent Representative regarding the relocation process.

UNMEE is also conferring with the country's authorities so that appropriate instructions are issued to Eritrean troops in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and officials at crossing points to ensure the smooth movement of UN personnel and equipment.

ENDS

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