UNMEE begins "temporary relocation" to Ethiopia

The UN announced that the main body of the UN Peacekeeping Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has begin a “temporary relocation”, due to Eritrea’s blocade of diesel fuel supplies which poses a danger to the functioning and possibly to the lives of the peacekeepers. This “temporary relocation”, the UN says, is to “designated relocation sites on the Ethiopian side of the border”.

Is that clear?

In a rather sullen and sulky statement released Thursday, the UN rather undiplomatically pointed the finger at Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki.  The statement was issued in the name of UN SG BAN Ki-Moon by his Spokesperson (Michele Montas), and in it the UN also said that “Advance units of UNMEE started moving across the border, by road, on 11 February, while the main body started its relocation earlier today. So far, some of UNMEE’s convoys have been allowed to cross the border without any obstruction, while others have been stopped and later allowed to cross or asked to turn back. Yesterday, the Secretariat discussed with the Permanent Representative of Eritrea the arrangements for the relocation process. UNMEE is also engaging the Eritrean authorities in order to ensure that appropriate instructions are issued to the Eritrean troops in the TSZ [Temporary Security Zone] and officials at the crossing points, to facilitate the movement of our personnel and equipment. The Secretary-General stresses the important conflict prevention role UNMEE plays in promoting regional stability. However, without the fuel needed to conduct its operations, the Mission has been effectively immobilized and rendered unable to carry out its critical functions. The Secretary-General 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”.   The full UN press release can be found here.

One of the dangers in the present situation is that Eritrea is being set up as the bad guy. This will only heighten already high tensions in the region. Is that what the UN really wants to do?

4 thoughts on “UNMEE begins "temporary relocation" to Ethiopia”

  1. you ask harder & harder this morning pal

    & yes that is not very clear

    it could mean the unmee people will be concentrated & isolated by ethiopia into a few happy camps for as long as it takes them all to hitch their collective or individual rides back to turtle bay

    i would venture in a follow on guess
    these camps will be found to lie nowhere even remotely near badme

    but i agree you have fastened on the choicest morsel in the whole bag of crumbs they are feeding out from their new digs now
    wherever they really are
    while also trying to reassert some modicum of their practically vanished authority

    & the obstructions & about faces youve also rightly emphasized could be evidence that these happy camps were in fact hurriedly but forcefully negotiated during the course of the actual retreat or parade

    & the mentioned appropriate instructions to eritrean forces in the tsz
    could have been
    be ye assured the tsz still lives in our unmee heart
    however powerless this heart may now seem or actually be
    for we are remanded to ethiopia on our way home to turtle bay

    & without us you may not really be in the tsz at all any more
    but perhaps only in a somewhat roomier if riskier eritrea
    so be assured & aware
    we are no longer sure of anything

    but in any case would you please kindly just not prevent us from making good our escape

    thanx & peace

    but your second question here above is still tougher

    clearly it is not what all the united nations really want to do
    nor necessarily even most of them

    but it may well still pass unanimous muster with the benighted bigs
    who must now be regretting that they just rebooked the unmee band for 6 months
    rather than the single month ban rightly guessed the force could only endure

    & so now it looks like these guys may have to just sit in the ethiopian desert twiddling their thumbs & shadow boxing for 5 more months
    while waiting for their carpool to the east side drive to finally leave

    but it is the bigs themselves
    & the dignity of the entire turtle bay country club
    that will actually & publicly be twisting in the wind all that time
    i would guess
    unless somebody wakes up really fast now

  2. & this fresh blunt word from addis ababa via luanda appears already to confirm most if not all of my above guesswork

    UN, 02/15 – The United Nations has confirmed that its peacekeeping force for Ethiopia and Eritrea, Unmee, has begun a “temporary relocation” out of Eritrea.

    The peacekeepers were monitoring the border security zone set up in 2000 at the end of a brutal two-year war which killed tens of thousands of people.

    They have left after the Eritrean government cut off their fuel supplies. Last week, the UN warned the two sides could return to war, as troops were being amassed in the security zone.

    “Clearly the signs point towards a resumption of the conflict,” UN spokesman Yves Sorokobi told the BBC last week.

    The BBC`s Elizabeth Blunt in Ethiopia says although the move is being described as temporary, it looks unlikely Unmee troops will be going back.

    Our correspondent says that diplomats in Addis Ababa say privately they cannot imagine a return for Unmee and that this is the beginning of the end of the peace force.

    Eritrea is angered at its neighbour`s failure to hand over Badme, the disputed town which sparked the conflict, which a Boundary Commission set up after the war, awarded to Eritrea.

  3. Sophia Tesfamariam has just written the following in her article entitled “UNMEE-Another Failed UN Peacekeeping Mission”, published in an interesting blog I found through exploring some of the links you sent earlier:
    (1) “The Cessation of Hostilities Agreement required that Ethiopia deploy its forces to the pre-May 6th 1998 position, and Eritrea was to rearrange Eritrea’s forces to 25 kilometers from the Ethiopian positions. When UNMEE provided both sides the deployment maps, Ethiopia refused to accept the maps and insisted on adjustments to the southern boundary of the TSZ. On 18 April 2001 Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, the then UNMEE head, instead of remaining neutral and simply reporting Ethiopia’s defiance … announced the “establishment” of the TSZ and further defended his obvious bias towards Ethiopia by saying:
    ‘…I told you that we have negotiated with Ethiopians insofar as that portion of Irob where we discovered they were sitting after we had verified the redeployment. We negotiated, and we discovered that it was a waste of time because they are not going to move out of there. They say they are where the 6 May 1998 line of administration was, and they are not going to move out, so what is the use of continuing to insist that they should move out when they are literally saying you dare move us out of it…Nobody wants to fight the Ethiopians out of that area and therefore we have told the President that this is a typical candidate for the Border Commission. That is the only solution, because to mortgage the creation of the TSZ, the progress of the peace process generally, to a resolution of the Irob issue would be tantamount to saying you don’t want to create the TSZ, you don’t want the peace process to go forward…’;

    (2) “…confident that he can get away with making even more defiant and arrogant demands, Meles Zenawi requested the removal of Major General Patrick Cammaert, the first UNMEE Force Commander. Ethiopia also closed the border to UNMEE and obstructed UNMEE’s movement and Major General Cammaert’s ability to carry out his mandate of monitoring and observing the troops on both sides. Here is an excerpt from a BBC report at the time: ‘…The UN is to appoint a new commander for its peacekeeping mission on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border…This follows increasing pressure from the Ethiopian Government to replace the current commander, Major-General Patrick Cammaert, who has been unofficially declared persona non grata by Ethiopia…Addis Ababa accusing General Cammaert of ‘political bias’ in favour of Eritrea…In April, Ethiopia closed its to the UN peacekeepers stationed at the border for 10 days…They demanded the removal of General Cammaert, a Dutch soldier, accusing him of ‘political bias…Ethiopian officials accused him of ‘deliberately trying to humiliate Ethiopia’…Ethiopia said that by crossing the border from Eritrea into the Ethiopian village without prior permission, the UN was implying that Badme was Eritrean…’ …[T]he Secretary General obliged Meles’ defiant request and the Force Commander was immediately replaced”.

    (3) “Eritreans and Ethiopians alike remember Meles Zenawi… as he made his 30 May 2000 victory speech to the press core that he seemed to summon at every turn, and telling them the ‘war was over’. We also remember well as Meles Zenawi, attempting to hoodwink the Ethiopian people and the international community and looking for a way to escape from the quagmire he had placed his forces in (deep inside Eritrean territories and nowhere to go) and knowing full well that the Eritrean Defenses Forces were launching their offensive, begged the international community to allow him to continue to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories until the peace Agreements were signed. Meles and his handlers knew … that he would have had no chance at all to return to the 6 May 1998 positions on his own, without the international community’s ‘security guarantees’. Just like he cannot leave Somalia now without the international community’s ‘security guarantees”’ and African Union peacekeepers. The US led international community and the then Secretary General of the United Nations agreed to establish a peacekeeping mission and that is how the United Nations Mission for Eritrea and Ethiopia was born. Here is an excerpt from Meles Zenawi’s bombastic Briefing of 30 May 2000 to the gullible Addis based diplomatic community: ‘…We admit that we have our army in indisputably Eritrean territories at this moment. Because we are committed to the principle of the return to the status quo ante, we agree to redeploy our troops on the May 6 line in the context of a peace agreement…we are willing to redeploy to the May 6 positions without too much fuss. What we need is an agreement, cease-fire, cessation of hostilities agreement, which would guarantee that when we redeploy, the Eritrean army will not fill the vacuum left for the purpose of mounting attacks on our army…If the international community can provide such guarantees, our preference would be to stick to our principles and redeploy to the May 6 positions…If Eritrea occupies the high ground near Shilala, the defense of Badme becomes very difficult. The defense of Zalambessa becomes very, very difficult. So what we are asking the international community is to make sure that Shilala and the high ground between Zalambessa and Senafe do not fall into Eritrean hands before we have a final peace agreement…’ So it is very clear to all that it was Meles Zenawi that begged for the UN and the US to intervene and save him. Eritrea agreed to the peacekeeping mission to give peace a chance, to allow the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia to get some respite from the bombings and destructions wrought by Meles Zenawi’s marauding forces. The world had witnessed then, as they do in Somalia today, the international crimes that were being committed by the occupying Ethiopian army in Senafe and other Eritrean border towns and villages and it was willing to allow peacekeepers to replace the Ethiopian army in order to prevent further tortures and deaths of innocent civilians. Eritrea agreed to allow for the establishment of a 25km Temporary Security Zone to give peace a chance. If Ban Ki Moon wants to continue to provide Meles Zenawi the ‘security guarantees’ he seeks, he will have to find another way. Occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme is no longer an option” …

    Here is the link: http://www.biddho.com/content/view/837/29/lang,english/

    It doesn’t look very good right now…

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