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Eritrean Flight Ban Forces Evacuation By Road

Eritrean Flight Ban Forces UN to Evacuate Injured Soldiers by Road

New York, Oct 18 2005 3:00PM

Three United Nations peacekeepers who were injured in a road accident in the Eritrean-Ethiopian border area had to be evacuated over land in an eight-hour trip "under very precarious conditions" because Eritrea did not respond to a request to lift the ban it has imposed on UN helicopter flights.

"Following the accident, the UN mission requested Eritrean authorities for permission for an aerial medical evacuation on humanitarian grounds," spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the regular noon briefing in New York today. "As of Tuesday morning, there had been no response from the Eritrean authorities."

The group reached Asmara, the Eritrean capital, earlier today and the peacekeepers are being treated at the UN hospital. One of the soldiers suffered head injuries.

The UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) yesterday began vacating nearly half the 40 posts it maintains to monitor an accord ending a border war between the two countries because of the ban, and Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that the mission was being jeopardized and its deployment might have to be reconsidered.

Mr. Annan and the Security Council have already called on Eritrea to reverse the ban which has forced the five-year-old Mission to suspend its lifesaving mine clearance activities in the country.

2005-10-18 00:00:00.000

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