Eritrea urged to stop blocking UNMEE's relocation

6 Jun 2008

Eritrea urged to stop blocking UNMEE's relocation

New York, 15 February: Leading UN officials and the Security Council have appealed to Eritrea to stop obstructing the temporary relocation of UNMEE amid growing concern over dwindling food and fuel supplies for the Mission's peacekeepers.

In a statement released by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General said that so far, Asmara has only allowed six vehicles to cross into Ethiopia. In one case yesterday, "UNMEE personnel were threatened and the equipment seized."

He also voiced concern that an Eritrean commercial company supplying rations to UNMEE today said that it will no longer fulfil its contractual obligations, leaving the mission with only a few days of emergency food.

Mr. Ban stressed that the relocation is temporary. He said that he was "in close contact with the Security Council and the troop contributing countries, and the Eritrean authorities are being contacted at the highest level to seek and immediate resolution of this unacceptable situation."

In a statement read out by Ambassador Ricardo Alberto Arias of Panama, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council, its members condemned Eritrea's lack of cooperation with the UN.

The 15-member body said that by not reinstating fuel supplies to UNMEE, the country "has created a situation in which a temporary relocation of personnel and equipment from Eritrea has been rendered inevitable."

Mr. Arias said that the Council "holds Eritrea responsible for the safety and security of the Mission and its personnel."

Meanwhile, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who briefed the Council in a closed meeting, characterized the situation as "untenable."

Talking to reporters after addressing the panel, he said, "We are in a situation where it's getting harder and harder to stay and it's getting harder and harder to leave. We're running out of fuel, we're running out of food."