Border Between Ethiopia And Eritrea Still Tense, UN Says

New York

January 19, 2006

The military situation in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) between Ethiopia and Eritrea remains tense, the United Nations mission there reported today, about six weeks after Eritrea demanded the pullout of UN personnel of certain nationalities.

Routine troop movements have been noticed on both sides, a spokesman for the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) told correspondents on Thursday.

The two countries fought a bitter war between 1998 and 2000 over a border dispute which remains unresolved to this day. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a recent report to the Security Council, offered a number of options for coping with the current stalemate, ranging from redeployment to total withdrawal of UNMEE.

Eritrea’s ban on UNMEE helicopters, which the Council and Secretary-General have vehemently opposed, remains in place, the spokesman said, while UNMEE patrols face restrictions on their movements in certain areas and at night.

Nonetheless, monitoring of the TSZ and adjacent areas continues and UNMEE carried out 753 ground patrols in the past week. In addition, peacekeepers are still providing medical help and supplies of bulk water to the local population in and around the TSZ.

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