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Regrouping Of Peacekeepers In Eritrea Continues

Regrouping of peacekeepers in Eritrea continues unhindered - UN

25 February 2008 - The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) reports that the regrouping of its peacekeepers and equipment in Asmara continued without restrictions today, as the world body still awaits Eritrea's cooperation to move its personnel across the border to Ethiopia.

UNMEE decided earlier this month to relocate to Ethiopia after Eritrea cut off diesel fuel supplies to the mission, paralyzing its operations on that side of the boundary between the neighbouring East African nations which fought a bloody border war that ended in 2000.

To speed up the relocation, the Mission's personnel and equipment began regrouping last week. So far seven out of 11 team sites in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) that divides the two countries have been vacated and four of the 21 military observer posts have been closed.

UNMEE notes that the pace of the temporary relocation is contingent on fuel reserves, which are running scarce. This may cause the Mission to leave container housing and storage facilities, along with some equipment, at observer posts, team sites and sector headquarters inside the TSZ in the care of Eritrean authorities. In some locations, private security contractors are already providing protection for some UN materials.

Some 547 UN peacekeeping troops and 89 military observers will have relocated to Asmara by the end of today, says the Mission. There are a total of 981 peacekeeping troops and 101 military observers in Eritrea.

ENDS

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