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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

ERITREA-ETHIOPIA: UN urges Ethiopia to cooperate with border commission

NAIROBI, 8 January 2004 (IRIN) - The UN Security Council has said it is disappointed with Ethiopia's rejection of an independent ruling on its border with Eritrea and expressed concern over the deadlock in the peace process.

In a statement read by Council President Heraldo Muñoz of Chile on Wednesday, members reaffirmed the final and binding nature of the decision, issued by The Hague-based Boundary Commission.

The ruling was made in April 2002, after the sides signed a peace deal in 2000 officially ending their two-year border war which was sparked by a skirmish in Badme. Both countries agreed that the decision would be final and binding. The verdict placed the now-symbolic village of Badme in Eritrea, but Ethiopia has now refused to accept this and has called for an "alternative mechanism" to the Boundary Commission. Demarcation of the new border has been put on hold indefinitely.

"Council members expressed their disappointment about Ethiopia’s rejection of parts of the decision and its refusal to fully cooperate with the Commission," the statement said. "Council members, while acknowledging the cooperative attitude of the Eritrean government towards the Commission, appealed to both parties to initiate demarcation on an expedited basis."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has appointed former Canadian foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy as a special envoy in a bid to kickstart the stalled process, but Council members stressed this did not constitute an "alternative mechanism". Eritrea is opposed to resolving the issue by any means other than the Boundary Commission's decision. Both sides were urged to "respond constructively" to Annan's proposals.

The Council also expressed concern over the "recent sharp increase in the restriction of movement" of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) by Eritrea and over "persisting administrative difficulties by both sides".

The statement urged dialogue between the two sides and condemned "recent inflammatory rhetoric" by the parties.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict

[ENDS]

 

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