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Eritrean-Ethiopian Border Zone Is Volatile

Eritrean-Ethiopian Border Zone Is Volatile After Troop Deployment, Says UN Mission

New York, Oct 20 2006 1:00PM

The situation inside the buffer zone along the disputed border between Eritrea and Ethiopia has become volatile after Eritrea moved 1,500 troops and 14 tanks into the area, the United Nations peacekeeping mission to the two countries reported today.

Besides the large-scale arrival of troops and tanks on Monday, both Eritrea and Ethiopia continue to conduct troop movements inside the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), according to a press briefing by the UN Mission, known as UNMEE, in the Eritrean capital Asmara.

Eritrea has maintained its ban on UNMEE helicopters and the Mission’s ability to carry out patrols in at least two sectors of the TSZ remains restricted, adding to the volatility and tension, UNMEE said.

Earlier this week the Security Council issued a press statement voicing alarm at the situation and urging Eritrea to withdraw its tanks and troops from the TSZ, which was established after a two-year border war ended in 2000.

Asking both sides to exercise maximum restraint, Council members reiterated their support of the peace process, including the implementation of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, and called on Ethiopia to implement fully the Commission’s decision on the border’s demarcation.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the incursion by the Eritrean military not only violated the integrity of the TSZ, but was in breach of the June 2000 agreement on cessation of hostilities.

UNMEE has about 2,300 military personnel in place to help ensure the observance of security commitments agreed to by Eritrea and Ethiopia and to monitor the positions of forces on both sides.

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