UN reports 102 peacekeepers "stranded" in Eritrea's Temporary Security Zone

The UN spokesperson told journalists at Friday’s daily noon briefing that “On Eritrea, the regrouping of UN peacekeepers ahead of a temporary relocation out of Eritrea was again obstructed by Eritrean soldiers today in Senafe. The latest obstruction has left 102 peacekeepers stranded inside the Temporary Security Zone and 21 vehicles sent to collect them unable to do so. Another 13 peacekeepers and eight UN vehicles were earlier today also stopped by Eritrean soldiers at the same checkpoint in Senafe. Azouz Ennifar, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Ethiopia and Eritrea, was assured in a telephone conversation with Eritrean officials today that there were no explicit instructions from the Eritrean Government to prevent UN peacekeepers from relocating. Despite the obstructions, the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea says that only two UN camps remain to be vacated, with UN military headquarters near the town of Barentu now expected to be vacated by this Sunday. Meanwhile, all military observers have now been accounted for, with 104 relocated to Asmara and another 11 awaiting further instructions in the port town of Assab”. The more-or-less complete transcript of Friday’s UN noon briefing is here.

On Thursday, the UN told journalists at the daily noon briefing that “regrouping continues for UN peacekeepers in Asmara, with noted progress in the relocation from 33 deployment sites in the Temporary Security Zone to Asmara and Assab. That’s according to the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, which adds that, to date, 788 out of a total of 1,115 military personnel have regrouped in Asmara while 112 have gathered in Assab. The Mission continues to encounter obstructions at the Senafe checkpoint where Eritrean soldiers are turning back some UN convoys. In the past 24 hours, seven UN posts inside the Temporary Security Zone were vacated and taken over by Eritrean militia, police and army personnel”. Thursday’s more-or-less complete transcript is posted

15 thoughts on “UN reports 102 peacekeepers "stranded" in Eritrea's Temporary Security Zone”

  1. senafe
    very strategic & very lovely spot
    so well worth lingering so poignantly there

    but squared & cubed
    cum sea breeze yet
    & indeed the real prize & or vacation spot in all of this

    of little consequence at this point unless the unmee force is planning a coup & regime change

    so it seems to me unmee has it assab ackwards once again
    & the mustered should rather be
    assab 788 on the hot dog & asmara only 112
    & not at all vice versa
    unless they all really are at asmara just to catch their ride back to turtle bay
    as has also been suggested

    & happily this whole area actually feels rather quiet today

  2. here is a first purported statement from the eritrean foreign ministry regarding the unmee regrouping
    along with a covering smear from the eritrean opposition

    much of it is fairly predictable stuff on both sides
    but it is interesting that the expected topological conundrum at badme does indeed appear to have come up & factored into the preliminary tactical maneuverings at least
    including ultimately some sort of denial & retraction by unmee

    also noteworthy are the clear signs of an ongoing indeterminate stall

    still waiting for the bigs to figure out what they want to do next i surmise

  3. Do I understand this right – is the Eritrean FM really saying that they were initially told (on less than 24 hrs notice) that UNMEE would be relocating to Badme IN ETHIOPIA?

    “Eritrea, as a sovereign country, a primary party to the Agreement which led to the creation of UNMEE and a host to the peacekeeping mission, should have been provided in advance with the details of any changes in the status of the mission and the mission’s major movements outside its area of responsibility. However, notifications and Note Verbales from UNMEE on these issues have been incomplete at best and annoying and provocative at worst.
    The Government of Eritrea was notified that UNMEE had decided to relocate to Ethiopia on the afternoon of 12 February for relocation that was supposed to occur on the morning of 13 February. The Note Verbale that was sent by UNMEE did not include any details on the scope and duration of relocation; legal explanation of its implications to UNMEE’s original deployment in terms of the provisions of the Algiers Agreement; logistical details in terms of route and other vital information.
    “The UNMEE Force Commander (FC) further informed Eritrean Government authorities in Asmara that relocation would be for the contingent on sector west to move to Badme; from the center to Zalambesa and from the east to Bure. The FC had no answer when asked how they could contemplate moving troops to Badme if this was relocation to Ethiopia. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) later denied and retracted the information”…

  4. well tho filtered thru a hostile medium
    the statement at least seems substantially authentic
    especially as all its revelations are so consistent with the principled eritrean position
    & so illuminating of the moral bankruptcy & utter confusion & disarray of the turtle bay position

  5. yikes
    but for a small rear guard
    all unmee forces are reported to have voluntarily evacuated the horn already

    that was fast

    the first 50 yesterday
    & most of the entire force of 1700 today

    perhaps a journalistic error
    or maybe the mosquitos got really bad

    but ban has summonsed the bigs again
    & is threatening political desolation or something

  6. probable correction
    this fresh update makes it seem likely that the nearly total evacuation of the horn by unmee reported yesterday by reuters was indeed very likely a journalistic error or a misreading by me
    but in the fog of diplomatic war it is still hard to be absolutely certain

    note full swan song opera in paragraphs 27 thru 37

    but the reuters poop scoop notwithstanding
    the accusation of breach of principle was first scooped here

    & indeed thank goodness ban & the turtles have at least recalled the principle
    of principles

  7. I think, myself, that it was journalistic error, either reporting or editing.

    The Reuters report erroneously gave the impression of a full withdrawal: “The report, dated March 3 but made available on Thursday, comes after the U.N. border mission, known as UNMEE, withdrew nearly 1,700 troops and military observers…”

    This was misleading, as the troops were not withdrawn from the whole of Eritrea — though they apparently will be UNLESS Eritrea mends its ways (the SG Report did leave that possibility still open)

    The Reuters report did say, later, that “Most of the U.N. peacekeepers have moved to Eritrea’s capital Asmara. But Ban said they were being housed in ‘substandard, congested, ad hoc facilities’ and would be repatriated pending instructions from the Security Council … The United Nations says Eritrea made it impossible for the UNMEE to stay on the Ethiopian-Eritrean border, though Asmara says it was a ‘unilateral’ U.N. decision to leave the area”.

  8. yes thanx all very telling points

    also fascinating
    in paragraphs 12 & 35 of bans above manifesto
    there are assertions of the integrity & yikes even the sanctity
    of the temporary security zone
    referring at least as much to its legal & principial integrity as to its territorial integrity or intrinsic sovereignty

    & yet all without really even noticing the word temporary
    now some 8 years after the cessation of hostilities agreement

    also without noticing except as a partial afterthought & footnote
    the comprehensive institutional violation of international law in this matter by ban himself on behalf of all turtledom

  9. not a peep out of this story in nearly 5 days unless i am mistaken

    no mouse roars
    no nothing

    do you suppose all the turtles have pulled back into their shells in shellshock
    or are they just out laying eggs for a new generation of shell games

  10. fresh updates at last
    but giving widely divergent impressions

    the main line just indicates ban buying more time amidst further positional maneuvering
    but at least clearly indicates the stalemate is now fully between asmara & all turtle bay

    Security Council insists Eritrea fully cooperate in temporary relocation of U.N. peacekeepers

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The U.N. Security Council insisted Thursday that Eritrea fully cooperate in the temporary relocation of U.N. peacekeepers based in the country who had been monitoring the tense border with Ethiopia.
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ordered the temporary redeployment on Feb. 11 after Eritrea restricted fuel supplies to the U.N. force and its food supplies were briefly halted. The moves exacerbated longstanding tensions between the U.N. and Eritrea over monitoring the disputed border.
    Eritrea’s U.N. Ambassador Araya Desta insisted Thursday that his government was «cooperating fully» with the U.N. force _ and told reporters «we are cooperating now in the withdrawal of the troops.
    He blamed «miscommunication, misunderstanding, confusion on the side of Eritrea» for the problems with food, fuel and the withdrawal. The fuel shortage was «very much dramatized,» he said, blaming a technical problem and insisting the U.N. force still had a three-month supply.
    A 1,700-strong U.N. force has been monitoring a 15-mile (24-kilometer) wide, 620-mile (1,000-kilometer) long buffer zone between the Horn of Africa neighbors under a December 2000 peace agreement that ended a 2 1/2-year border war.
    Eritrea and Ethiopia have been feuding over their border since Eritrea gained independence from the Addis Ababa government in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war.
    Tensions between the two countries remain high because of Ethiopia’s refusal to accept an international boundary commission’s ruling in 2002 on the border demarcation which awarded the key town of Badme to Eritrea.
    In apparent frustration at Ethiopia’s refusal to implement the ruling and the lack of U.N. action to press Ethiopia to comply, Eritrea banned U.N. helicopter flights in its airspace in October 2005. Two months later, it banned U.N. night patrols and expelled Western peacekeepers _ and earlier this year it started restricting fuel supplies.
    When Desta was asked whether Eritrea’s cooperation extended to restoring U.N. helicopter flights and operations in the buffer zone, he accused some U.N. peacekeepers based in Eritrea of «misbehaving» by keeping pornography, trafficking in women and getting involved in the country’s national security.
    While conceding that there have been isolated incidents of misbehavior among peacekeepers in both Eritrea and Ethiopia, U.N. officials expressed skepticism that this was Eritrea’s real motivation. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
    The Security Council said after a closed-door briefing that members «insist on full cooperation of Eritrea in the context of the temporary relocation of personnel and equipment.
    The council said it is also waiting for a report from the secretary-general «providing options and recommendations for the future U.N. presence in the area.
    Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the current council president, told reporters that the U.N. force in Eritrea «had to be relocated by the secretary-general temporarily because conditions were created which made it impossible for the mission to stay there.

    U.N. troops remain on the Ethiopian side of the buffer zone.
    During council discussions, Churkin said, some members mentioned that the U.N. force «has played and should continue to play a very stabilizing role» and warned that a permanent pullout «could have some negative consequences.
    China’s deputy U.N. ambassador Liu Zhenmin said «it’s a very difficult decision … whether the mission should stay or be evacuated.
    «The mission was there to prevent potential conflict, but if the mission is evacuated, nobody knows the consequences,» he said.
    Eritrea’s Desta said he did not envision any renewed conflict with Ethiopia because the border has been demarcated by coordinates, and Eritrea is satisfied.
    «We have accepted it and we want peace with Ethiopia, but first and foremost we want Ethiopia to withdraw from our sovereign territories,» he said.


    but a totally different line shows turtle bay falling back in full retreat

    UN speeds up Eritrea withdrawal
    13/03/2008 19:05 – (SA)

    Addis Ababa – United Nations troops may complete their withdrawal from Eritrea within a week following Asmara’s refusal to provide fuel, a UN official said on Thursday.

    A batch of some 700 mainly Indian and Jordanian troops who had been stationed in Eritrea to monitor the disputed border with Ethiopia flew out to their respective countries on Tuesday.

    “The departure of the peacekeepers is scheduled to start in a few days. There are 500 or so remaining and they could all depart within a week,” a UN official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

    The United Nations Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) made the decision to relocate its staff after Asmara cut off diesel fuel supplies to the mission, crippling its monitoring activities.

    UN chief Ban Ki-moon last week reiterated that restrictions imposed by Asmara were “unacceptable and in breach of the fundamental principles of peacekeeping”.

    Eritrea claims that the UN supports Ethiopia in the dispute over their common border. A ruling granted the border town of Badme to Eritrea, but Ethiopia has refused to recognise it.


  11. could be another bureaucratic lapse or journalistic oversimplification etc
    but interestingly this travel warning from washington
    says flatly
    unmee is no more

    rather than merely in full temporary retreat from eritrea
    with a few stragglers hanging on in mekelle
    while under review at turtle bay
    as we were last left to believe by ban & company

    in fact the main reason for the warning seems to be the demise of unmee

  12. Very interesting —
    The warning “reiterates the Department of State’s advice that U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel to Eritrea DUE TO RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE CAPITAL CITY OF ASMARA AND HEIGHTENED TENSIONS ALONG THE ERITREA-ETHIOPIA BORDER. THE UNITED NATIONS MISSION IN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA (UNMEE) IS NO LONGER MONITORING THE ERITREAN-ETHIOPIAN BORDER. [EMPHASIS ADDED] American citizens considering travel within Eritrea should be aware of the presence of large numbers of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops along the Eritrean-Ethiopian border, and acute political tensions between the two countries.

    The GSE continues to restrict the travel of all foreign nationals, including resident diplomats. These restrictions require all visitors and residents to apply with the GSE 10 days in advance for permission to travel outside Asmara city limits.

  13. george friedman & i still think war not very likely
    owing to lack of funding etc
    tho i think the travel restrictions must be real

    these could just be the effects of a new security regime in eritrea
    to replace the former security if any
    afforded by the unmee pax americana

    troops & supposed reports of high tension on the front are nothing new

    the recent sparsity of actual news dispatches however suggests the front may actually be rather quiet lately

  14. the following extensive rebuttals provided in
    to the choice historical details appearing in the expired link at the end of the above comment dated april 12 tho still awaiting moderation
    that the choice of these details by unsg ban was indeed quite selective
    & very possibly lopsided

    the replacement link for bans comments in the above expired link is

    apologies for any confusion & or counterlopsidedness

    UNMEE’s Unilateral Withdrawal from Eritrea
    Sophia Tesfamariam
    April 29, 2008

    “…[i]mpartiality is the oxygen of peacekeeping: the only way peace keepers can work is by being trusted by both sides, being clear and transparent in their dealings, and keeping lines of communication open. The moment they lose this trust, the moment they are seen by one side as the ‘enemy’, they become part of the problem they were sent to solve…” Shashi Tharoor, UN Under Secretary-General for public affairs

    I read Ban Ki Moon´s 8 April 2008 “Special Report of the Secretary General on the United Nation´s Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE)” to the Security Council and wondered why the man was wasting valuable time and energy on a dead and moot issue when there are bigger and more serious issues that warrant immediate attention. While Ethiopia is belligerently occupying sovereign Eritrean territories including Badme, Moon attempts to divert international attention from the real culprit and the Security Council´s negligence, duplicity and hypocrisy, to take cheap pot shots at Eritrea.

    Moon cherry picks through UNMEE´s journey, highlighting what he perceives to be violations by Eritrea and down playing or neglecting to mention the minority regime in Ethiopia´s more egregious violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and international law. Ban Ki Moon also chose not to address UNMEE´s conduct during its 8 years in Eritrea and the Security Council´s refusal to uphold its moral and legal obligations under the Algiers Agreements and the UN Charter. After unilaterally removing UNMEE without even consulting with Eritrea when moving UNMEE forces and equipment across sovereign Eritrean territories, Moon is now backtracking and attempting to undo his own mistakes by pointing fingers at Eritrea.

    It should be recalled that before Ban Ki Moon´s unilateral decision to “relocate UNMEE to Ethiopia”, the Secretary General and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) orchestrated a two-week long defamation and vilification campaign against the Government and people of Eritrea in order to justify UNMEE´s “relocation to Ethiopia”. Citing flimsy and exaggerated pretexts such as “Eritrea cuts fuel to UNMEE”, “Eritrea refused to allow food delivery” etc. etc. hoping to garner public sympathy, without ever consulting Eritrea, or getting permission to cross the border, acting like thieves in the night, Moon and his cohorts decided to move UNMEE equipment and personnel across the Eritrea Ethiopia border without ever consulting the Government of Eritrea.

    The decision to “temporarily relocate” UNMEE troops from Eritrea to Ethiopia was done through closed consultations between the UN Secretary-General and the Ethiopian Prime Minister on the fringes of the AU summit at the end January 2008. Eritrea was kept in the dark about this decision until a day earlier before the UN troops completed preparations to cross the border to Ethiopia. As it happened, the UN informed Eritrea through the 12 February 2008 “Note Verbale” regarding the relocation to Ethiopia that was scheduled to take place in the morning of 13 February 2008. Here is what the Eritrean Foreign Ministry said in its 5 March 2008 Press Release:

    “…The UNMEE Force Commander (FC) further informed Eritrean Government authorities in Asmara that relocation would be for the contingent on sector west to move to Badme; from the center to Zalambesa and from the east to Bure. The FC had no answer when asked how they could contemplate moving troops to Badme if this was relocation to Ethiopia. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) later denied and retracted the information…Concerning the “regrouping” of members of the Mission to Asmara, the DPKO/UNMEE informed the Government of Eritrea about the matter on February 22nd when the bulk of the troops had already arrived. The Government of Eritrea was not provided in advance with the plan for the movement, handling of the Mission’s heavy equipment and other necessary details…”

    Speaking of heavy equipment, it seems Moon and his cohorts not only insulted the Government and people of Eritrea and falsely accused them of withholding food and fuel, they also shamelessly accused Eritrea of coveting UNMEE´s equipment. My European sources in Asmara tell me that the US Embassy in Asmara circulated that malicious and erroneous rumor amongst the diplomatic core, which the western media was only too happy to disseminate.

    Reuters reported on 23 April 2008 that the U.S. envoy Alejandro Wolff made remarks about the Security Council being dissatisfied “at the manner in which Eritrea has handled this”, and that he said, “In the long term Eritrea will pay a big price for this misjudgment”. What misjudgment is he talking about? Eritrea had no choice; UNMEE was packed and moving out of Eritrea without Eritrea´s consent or knowledge. It is unfortunate to read that the U.S. envoy has chosen to once again attack and threaten Eritrea instead of taking responsibility for the UN and Moon created “crisis”.

    Eritrea waited patiently for over 6 years as the former Secretary General Kofi Annan and the US State Department attempted to hijack the sole mandate of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) and reverse the Final and Binding 13 April 2002 decision and thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) languished in make shift camps waiting to go back to their villages and homes. In addition, 25000sq.kilometers of sovereign Eritrean territories (Temporary Security Zone) remained occupied by UNMEE retarding Eritrea´s development plans for the area

    Moon´s latest report was replete with half-truths, deliberate omissions and devoid of the neutrality expected of the Secretary Generals´ high office. After ignoring Eritrea´s calls for UN neutrality for over 8 years, after refusing to call a spade a spade and taking punitive actions as called for in the Algiers Agreements against the defiant and lawless minority regime in Ethiopia for its decade long belligerence and intransigence and for refusing to allow UNMEE and the EEBC from fulfilling their mandates in accordance with the Algiers Agreements, Moon now wants to point fingers at Eritrea for the UN´s own mistakes and negligence. Moon and the ignominious Ethiopian Foreign Ministry continue in their futile and childish attempts to blemish Eritrea´s record, but the record is clear and Eritrea has not violated the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

    For the record, let us take a look at what transpired over the last 8 years and take a look at the conduct of each of the parties.

    I. Establishment of the Temporary Security Zone

    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, instead of remaining neutral and simply reporting Ethiopia’s defiance, choosing instead to make excuses for the minority regime´s lawlessness, without any consideration for Eritrea´s sovereignty or territorial integrity, announced the “establishment” of the TSZ and further defended his appeasement of 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…”

    This was in violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, but the UN took no action and chose instead to appease the lawless minority regime and Meles Zenawi.

    II. Issue of Direct Flights Between the Two Capitals

    On 15 January 2000 UNMEE released this statement:

    “…The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) today opened a direct high altitude air access route between Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Asmara, Eritrea. The air route was established with flights between the two capitals by UN G-222 fixed-wing aircraft…The new access route, and all the land and air access routes that have been opened between the two countries to date, are to be used in support of UNMEE’s mandated activities, including deployment of the 4,200 UN peacekeepers between the two forces, and meeting the peacekeepers’ logistical and medical needs…”

    But then on January 17th, 2001 just two days after the commencement of direct flights, the leader of the minority regime in Ethiopia reneged on his stated commitments under the Algiers Agreement and UNMEE was forced to issue another press release. This is what they had to say then in response to Meles Zenawi’s intransigence:

    “…The Eritrean authorities have been willing to authorize UNMEE flights by the direct route between the two capitals used by commercial flights before hostilities began in 1998. The Ethiopian authorities have been willing to authorize UNMEE flights by a route requiring a diversion…The Ethiopian authorities remain unwilling to allow use of the direct route without diversion…”

    Again, instead of enforcing the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, the UN chose to appease the minority regime and decided to use a more costly indirect route.

    III. Eviction of Jean Victor Nkolo, first UNMEE spokesperson, by Ethiopia

    Shortly after the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) delivered its Final and Binding decision on 13 April 2002, re-affirming Eritrea’s sovereignty over Badme, a group of journalist visited Badme accompanied by Jean Victor Nkolo, the first UNMEE Spokesperson. As if Nkolo had violated his mandate or any rules of engagement by taking the journalist there, the deceptive minority regime in Ethiopia immediately demanded the removal of Jean Victor Nkolo from the area.

    The Secretary General, appeasing his friend Meles, immediately replaced Mr. Nkolo. He was not even allowed enough time to pack his belongings and say goodbye to his Ethiopian friends and colleagues. The international community did not register a single protest, let alone call for an emergency meeting of the Security Council. Had it been Eritrea that had done that, the western media would be crying foul and the headlines would be screaming, “Eritrea expels”, “Eritrea ousts”, “Eritrea rejects” etc. etc. Was this not a restriction on Jean Victor Nkolo´s movement and a violation of the CHA?

    IV. Eviction of Major General Patrick Cammaert

    Constantly testing the waters and getting away with all its defiant and arrogant demands, 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…”

    Again, the Secretary General obliged Meles’ defiant request and the Force Commander was immediately replaced. The Secretary General did not issue any urgent “alerts”, “calls”, and did not call for emergency meeting of the Security Council, nor did he send “Envoys” to impress on Meles that the Force Commander’s actions were consistent with international law and his mandate. The UN also took no action against the belligerent minority regime in Ethiopia, the US´ “staunch ally”.

    V. On the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)

    The Secretary General is perfectly aware that even though Eritrea has not signed the SOFA, it is fully respecting the letter and spirit of the agreement. Ban Ki Moon in his report wrote:

    “…Owing to disagreement on a number of provisions, no such agreement was concluded with Eritrea. As a result, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1320 (2000), the model status-of-forces agreement (A/45/594, annex) of 9 October 1990 provisionally applies between the United Nations and Eritrea in respect of UNMEE…”

    Allow me to share with the readers what the “number of provisions” were. One of the issues is HIV-AIDs and the other is the issue of hiring national staff. These are issues UNSG Kofi Annan misrepresented in all of his reports. Let us take a look at what Kofi Annan wrote in the 7 March 2001 Report of the Secretary General to the Security Council regarding the SOFA:

    “…No agreement has yet been reached with Eritrea, as the latter continues to insist on the inclusion in the status-of-forces agreement of provisions which would require the United Nations, contrary to the existing practice in other peacekeeping operations, to test all UNMEE personnel arriving in the country for HIV/AIDS, as well as on security pre-screening of local employees by the Government of Eritrea…”

    The HIV-AIDS problem is ravaging Africa and Eritrea considering this a sensitive and serious national security issue, is determined to fight the deadly scourge. Prevention being the major component in combating the spread of HIV-AIDS infection in the country, the Government of Eritrea (GoE) introduced testing mechanism all over the country and within the Armed Forces, in particular. UNMEE has refused to agree to this basic Eritrean requirement. Instead of applauding Eritrea´s initiative, Kofi Annan chose to do otherwise. It is UNMEE and the UNSG that held the SOFA hostage.

    Eritrean nationals employed by UNMEE are subject to Eritrean national laws just as all Eritreans in Eritrea are. Nobody is exempt from national military service without approval from the appropriate authorities. In its hiring practices, UNMEE, instead of respecting Eritrean labor laws and instituting employment practices that did not infringe on and were in accordance with, requirements set by the Government of Eritrea, it did just the opposite. Ban Ki Moon must know that it was UNMEE that violated Eritrean labor laws and distorted the facts. Kofi Annan insinuated that Eritrean nationals who work for UNMEE as local staff were above the law, and are that they ought to be exempted as if they were better than the lawyers, doctors, nurses, engineers, farmers, carpenters, nomads etc. and other citizens who were and continue to fulfill their national military service obligations all over Eritrea. Instead of telling the truth, Kofi Annan chose to blemish Eritrea´s image by omitting key facts surrounding the SOFA issues.

    VI. On the issue of land mines

    After the signing of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia in June 2000, which called on both countries to facilitate emergency mine-action assistance in coordination with the United Nations, mine-action operations had been initiated on the basis of a rapid survey. The major impediment to further progress remained Ethiopia´s refusal to provide the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) with operationally useful information on its minefields, despite its obligation under Article 8 of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities.

    While Eritrea provided its maps to UNMEE immediately upon request, it was not until 6 March 2001 that UNMEE received “10 Dangerous Area Survey” reports from Ethiopian authorities and called it “the first significant handover of landmine information since UNMEE arrived in the region by the Ethiopian Armed Forces. In a 13 July 2001 UNMEE press conference, when the Spokesperson was asked if UNMEE was still having a hard time getting information on landmines from the Ethiopians, the UNMEE spokesperson responded by saying:

    “…In response to our request to both governments we’ve received mine maps from the Eritrean Government. The Ethiopian Government tells us it doesn’t have mine maps. They’ve released to us surveys by Halo Trust of the mine areas on the edge of the TSZ and we’ve been using those surveys for our work. They’ve also offered – and we’ve accepted their offer – to allow us to speak to the engineers in the regions who might have an understanding of where the mines are. So we’re receiving cooperation from them. But we’ve been told that there are no central maps of minefields on the southern boundary of the TSZ in the possession of the Ethiopians…”

    Eritrea continued to notify the UN that the TPLF regime was planting new mines in the TSZ in violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement but the UN took no actions against Meles Zenawi´s regime. As a result, Ethiopian-laid minefields in the TSZ continued to claim a heavy toll of human life and property, including UNMEE´s personnel and vehicles, and prevented returnees from using their farm fields and grazing lands.

    After denying it had any mine maps or surveys, following meetings between UNMEE and units of the Ethiopian Armed Forces in Addis Ababa on 1 and 15 October 2001, the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense handed over to the United Nations maps containing information on minefields in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and the areas adjacent to it. Ethiopia was in violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and yet, the UN and African Union refused to take punitive actions against the belligerent regime.

    VII. Ethiopian Violations

    But what about Ethiopia´s endless incursions into the TSZ, why is Ban Ki Moon so fast to accuse Eritrea of entering the TSZ which is solely on sovereign Eritrean territories but neglected to mention Ethiopia´s violations and restrictions? Allow me to refresh his memory:

    August 2003-Under the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea, the two countries’ armed forces were banned from entering the TSZ. But Ethiopian troops were seen “playing football” in the TSZ for several hours. UNMEE officials accused Ethiopian forces of making incursions into the UN-protected buffer zone between it and Eritrea. The UN did not take any punitive actions against Ethiopia.

    Kofi Annan in a 2003 Report noted the following but took no punitive actions against his friend Meles Zenawi´s regime:

    “… the recent increase in local incidents is a source of concern. Since my last report, the number of Ethiopian herdsmen and livestock entering the Zone on a daily basis in some areas in Sector Centre has increased even more…During the month of August, several more serious incidents occurred in the Aromo area of the Zone (Sector Centre)”.

    On 25 April 2004, the Sector Commander for Sector East, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Magut, met with the Ethiopian Armed Forces Commander at Manda to discuss an incursion into the TSZ by two EAF soldiers on 11 April 2004. The UN took no punitive actions against Ethiopia and of course Ethiopia pleaded ignorance.

    Ban Ki Moon does not mention the tightening of immigration formalities by the Ethiopian authorities at Bole International Airport at Addis Ababa. UNMEE personnel were subjected to immigration formalities by Meles Zenawi´s authorities at the airport in Addis Ababa. Not only did such procedures cause delays, they also constituted a violation of the status-of-forces agreement. The UN again took no action.

    I could go on an on year after year, incident by incident but that would mean I would be writing forever. Ethiopia´s violations are too numerous to account for in one sitting and the Secretary General must know of them, but he chooses to harp on Eritrea without offering explanations. Contrary to what the former Secretary General and Ban Ki Moon assert in their distorted and biased reports, Eritrea´s actions were almost always triggered by UNMEE´s conduct and the UN´s refusal to shoulder its legal and moral obligations by enforcing its own resolutions and decisions, the rule of law and the UN Charter.

    VIII. Conduct of UNMEE personnel in Eritrea

    While Ban Ki Moon downplayed Ethiopia´s gross violations of the Agreements from the get go, he also neglected to mention the conduct of UN peacekeepers in Eritrea. Allow me to refresh Moon´s memory by mention the most notorious incidents, which by the way contributed to the imposed restrictions of UNMEE movement in Eritrea :

    In February 2001, barely three months into its mission there were reports of a group of Danish peacekeepers sexually abusing a 13-year-old Eritrean girl in Massawa.

    The pilot of an aircraft used by UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Ethiopia and Eritrea, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, was expelled last week from Eritrea for spying. (Inter Press Service (IPS) 7 November 2003)

    An Irish soldier serving as a United Nations peacekeeper in Eritrea was caught making pornographic videos of local women (The Scotsman, 23 January 2003)

    In June 2003, the Irish military police investigated allegations that seven Irish peacekeepers used prostitutes who were as young as 15.

    Eritrea brought to UN attention a string of offences committed by UNMEE, including housing criminals, pedophilia, making pornography and even using the national currency as toilet paper. (BBC 8 May 2004)

    In August 2004, Eritrea reported that UNMEE personnel traveled at night and engaged in espionage, including registering plate numbers of vehicles belonging to its defense forces.

    In April 2005, several Eritrean women formally and informally reported to UNMEE incidents of sexual abuse by its peacekeepers. UNMEE formed a Committee to investigate the charges.

    UNMEE staff members made huge profits by illegally trafficking people across the border into Sudan and Ethiopia. UNHCR reported the following on 8 October 2007:

    “…According to the refugees, some members of the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) were involved in human trafficking…”

    And the list goes on and on, and yet, neither UNMEE, the DPKO nor the UN have bothered to issue any apologies to the Government and people of Eritrea for the abuses and hurts caused by UN peacekeepers.

    In his latest Report, Ban Ki Moon writes that:

    “…The military occupation by Eritrea of the Temporary Security Zone and the restrictions it has imposed on UNMEE are a violation of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities and have undermined the very basis of the Mission´s mandate…”

    Considering the TSZ is entirely on sovereign Eritrean territories, how is that considered military occupation? The CHA is very clear about why the TSZ was created when it would be terminated. It is the area of UNMEE´s operation and the CHA is also very celar about when UNMEE would be terminated. Here is what it said:

    “…The Peacekeeping Mission shall terminate when the delimitation-demarcation process of the border has been completed …In order to contribute to the reduction of tension and to the establishment of a climate of calm and confidence, as well as to create conditions conducive to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the conflict through the delimitation and demarcation of the border, the Eritrean forces shall remain at a distance of 25 km (artillery range) from positions to which Ethiopian forces shall redeploy in accordance with paragraph 9 of this document. This zone of separation shall be referred to in this document as the “temporary security zone.”…”

    Since the Eritrea Ethiopia border has been legally demarcated, there is no need for UNMEE to loiter in the region. Moon and his cohorts can “relocate UNMEE” to Mars if they want to-just get the remaining couple hundred peacekeepers out of sovereign Eritrean territories so that Eritrean can manage their own affairs without the constant harassment, interference and sabotage by self serving groups and individuals. If the Security Council wants to salvage its fledgling reputation and credibility, it should address Ethiopia´s occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories; uphold international law and the UN charter and stop playing political games whilst the lives of thousands of people are put on hold.

    The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle.

    footnote from commenter

    this & other reports
    tho sketchy as ever
    do suggest a very few hundred unmee personnel may still be encamped in asmara if not also in mekelle
    guarding equipment etc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *