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UN mission expresses shock that Eritrea alleges old and new offences

10 May 2004 The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has expressed grave concern that new and old accusations of infractions levelled by an Eritrean panel has made the mission part of the problem in the Horn of Africa and could turn the Eritrean public against the three-year-old peacekeeping mission.

The latest press release issued by the Eritrean Commission for Coordination with the Peacekeeping Mission contains the new allegation that on 1 May, an UNMEE helicopter transported a "fugitive wanted for security reasons" from Senafe, Eritrea, in the Temporary Security Zone, to Adigrat in Ethiopia, the Mission said Friday.

An UNMEE Board of Inquiry was urgently investigating the allegation and the results would be shared with the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia, it said.

UNMEE said some of the allegations repeated by Eritrean Brig. Gen. Abrahaley Kifle last month already had been dealt with.

The Mission said it was shocked by an allegation that because it has taken no action to "clean up its activities" it had become a danger to the peace and stability of the people and Government of Eritrea.

"Since its inception, the Mission has worked hard to contribute to a lasting solution to the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and we are shocked to learn that we are now part of the problem," UNMEE said.

"We of course acknowledge that we are guests in Eritrea. When a guest is no longer welcome in a house, it is the prerogative of the host to decide what to do next."

The UN Security Council has called on Eritrea and Ethiopia to cooperate with UN emissaries and with one another in demarcating a boundary between the two countries, over which they fought a devastating war in the last 1990s, and it extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in the frontier area until 15 September.

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