UNMEE was established by UN Security Council resolution 1320 on 15 September 2000 to monitor a ceasefire between Ethiopia and Eritrea following the 1998-2000 border war between the two countries. It has been operational since 31 July 2000.
UNMEE’s main headquarters are in Asmara, Eritrea and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Sector headquarters are located in Barentu and Assab in Eritrea, and Adigrat in Ethiopia.
UNMEE employs 147 international civilians, 202 local civilians and 67 United Nations Volunteers.
UNMEE’s military strength before its temporary relocation from Eritrea (February 2008) was 1,676 military personnel, comprising 1,464 troops and 212 Military Observers.
When established, UNMEE had an authorized maximum strength of 4,200 troops, including up to 220 Military Observers (Security Council resolution 1320 of 15 September 2000). It has been downsized several times since then. UNMEE’s military component was reconfigured to 2,300 troops, including 230 military observers, on 31 May 2006 (Security Council resolution 1681). It was again reconfigured to 1,700 military personnel, including 230 Military Observers, on 30 January 2007 (Security Council resolution 1741). However, the Mission’s mandate and maximum authorized force levels were maintained, as stipulated in resolution 1320 and further adjusted in resolutions 1430 and 1681.
Prior to its relocation from Eritrea in early 2008, UNMEE’s peacekeeping force maintained checkpoints and carried out patrols in the Temporary Security Zone and adjacent areas. The TSZ is entirely within Eritrea and is divided into three sectors: Sector Centre, Sector West and Sub-Sector East.
The peacekeepers also liaised with local military and militia commanders to obtain information regarding troop movements in the Temporary Security Zone and adjacent areas. UNMEE’s responsibility is to create conditions for the demarcation of the border, not to physically demarcate the border.
UN Military Observers (UNMOs) use their military skills and initiative to gather information and provide regular assessments of developments in the Temporary Security Zone and adjacent areas. Military Observers coordinate information concerning mapping, route clearance, minefields, militia, police and the military. They also conduct “challenge inspections,” which involve observation, monitoring, reporting, registration and negotiation. Military Observers are unarmed, whereas regular peacekeeping forces are armed.
UNMEE has hosted military staff from the following countries: Algeria, Austria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, India, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sri-Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Zambia.
The United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC) was established as part of UNMEE under UN Security Council resolution 1320 (September 2000). The MACC coordinates with local mine action authorities and provides mine action support to UNMEE’s peacekeeping force and Military Observers. Landmine and other unexploded ordnance in the Mission area is a legacy from World War Two, three decades of Eritrea’s struggle for independence, and the 1998-2000 border conflict. There are an estimated three million landmines and other unexploded ordnance in Eritrea alone. The MACC has cleared more than 70 million square metres of land and 25 thousand kilometres of roads. A mine-risk team travels within the Mission area educating local people about the dangers of landmines and unexploded devices.
UNMEE has had 20 fatalities. The victims include: 13 military personnel, 3 international civilian personnel and 4 local civilian personnel
UNMEE is financed through assessments from donor countries, payable to a Special Account. The UNMEE budget for 1 July 2007 - 30 June 2008 is $118.99 million.
Some 70,000 people were killed and more than 700,000 people were affected by the 1998-2000 border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Many were forced to flee their homes, and the conflict left millions of landmines and other unexploded devices scattered throughout both countries.
The Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities was signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea on 18 June 2000, in Algiers, Algeria. The Agreement called for the establishment of a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission. It also provided for the creation of a Military Coordination Commission to facilitate dialogue between the parties on military issues.
Under the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, a 25 kilometre-wide Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) was established within Eritrea, to be monitored by UN peacekeepers. The TSZ is a neutral demilitarized zone stretching for more than 1,000 kilometres from Djibouti to Sudan.
The Algiers Peace Agreement formally brought an end to the two-year border war. It was signed by Eritrea and Ethiopia on 12 December 2000 in Algiers. The countries agreed to terminate hostilities permanently and to refrain from the threat or use of force, and to respect and fully implement the provisions of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities.
The Algiers Peace Agreement provided for the creation of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, a neutral body mandated to delimit and demarcate the border. It also provided for the creation of a neutral Claims Commission mandated to decide through arbitration all claims for loss, damage or injury by one government against the other, and by nationals, arising from the border conflict.
Under the Algiers Peace Agreement, Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed to release and repatriate all prisoners of war and other detainees and to accord humane treatment to the nationals of each country.
The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) served as an independent, impartial body with a mandate to delimit and demarcate the border. It was based in The Hague, The Netherlands, and had five members. The EEBC delivered its "final and binding" decision on the demarcation of the border on 13 April 2002. The EEBC dissolved itself on 30 November 2007.
The Military Coordination Commission (MCC) was established to provide a forum for Eritrean-Ethiopian dialogue on military issues. The Commission is the only platform for high level officials from both countries to have direct contact. The first of 37 meetings took place in December 2000. The last meeting was held in 2006.