The Human Rights Office (HRO) investigates allegations of cross-border incidents, detentions and disappearances, and other human rights violations within the Temporary Security Zone and adjacent areas.
HRO provides human rights training to new civilian and military UNMEE staff members and has also provided gender, human rights and child protection training, to peacekeepers posted in both countries.
Special attention is paid to vulnerable populations affected by the conflict, particularly those living in sensitive border areas. Following the April 2002 decision
of the Eritrea and Ethiopia Boundary Commission, the HRO looked at the possible human rights consequences of any transfer of territories that would follow border demarcation. Issues identified covered such things as the nationality and property rights of resident populations, their freedom of choice and their freedom of movement.
In accordance with Article 2 of the Algiers Peace Agreement
HRO has monitored the release and repatriation of prisoners of war and civilians detained as a result of the conflict. HRO works in close cooperation with UN and other agencies operating within the mission area.
On 18 September 2000, the Secretary-General appealed to Prime Minister Meles (Ethiopia) and President Afeworki (Eritrea) to ensure the humane treatment of each other's nationals. He advised them that he would include a human rights component in UNMEE. The Human Rights Office (HRO) was established in UNMEE in May 2001.
Based on commitments by both parties in the Algiers Peace Agreement, the HRO has monitored the treatment of nationals by the governments of both countries, including the repatriation of nationals under International Committee of the Red Cross auspices and monitored by Human Rights Officers.
An issue of special concern has been the separation of families as a consequence of the deportation of thousands on both sides of the border.