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Security Council calls on Ethiopia, Eritrea to cooperate with UN mission

4 May 2004 Citing dwindling cooperation with the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), members of the Security Council today called on both Horn of Africa countries to work fully with the mission in fulfilling its mandate and with one another to explore ways of moving forward the stalled border demarcation process.

In a statement to the press, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, which holds the Council Presidency for the month, said that during earlier consultations on the situation, the members of the 15-nation body had expressed concern at the restrictions both Ethiopia and Eritrea have placed on UN staff working in the frontier area. They were particularly concerned that Eritrea has retained restrictions on the movements of UN peacekeepers north of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), the buffer area between the two countries, and has closed the main supply rout to UNMEE troops in the western sector.

He said Council members were also concerned that increased detention of UNMEE local staff has had a negative effect on the Mission's effectiveness, and that recent public allegations by a senior Eritrean official in charge of cooperation with UNMEE may have a detrimental effect on the security of mission staff.

The call for full cooperation with UNMEE reiterated the Council's demand in a resolution unanimously adopted in March for Eritrea to remove "without preconditions" any and all restrictions on impediments to the mission's work and to ensure full freedom of movement for its staff.

Ambassador Akram also said Council members "viewed with disappointment" Ethiopia's continued rejection of significant parts of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission's (EEBC) decision, "which heightens and blocks completion of UNMEE's mandate."

"Members of the Council stressed that UNMEEE was established at the invitation of both parties, standing ready to help them in the implementation of the Algiers Agreements," the Council President said. "They pointed out that the failure of Ethiopia to permit full demarcation to go forward as well as the continued and increasing restrictions of the work of UNMEE raised serious concerns about the long-term value of this mission."

The lack of progress in the implementation of the final and binding demarcation decision of the EEBC also deeply troubled Council members, Ambassador Akram said. They therefore reiterated the call on the parties to cooperate full and expeditiously with the Boundary Commission, and reiterated their support for the efforts of the Special Envoy to engage the parties with the objective of overcoming the current stalemate in the peace process.

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