Eritrea preventing UN troops from leaving Eritrea

Other News Materials 16 February 2008 00:16 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The Eritrean government, after cutting off fuel supplies to UN peacekeepers, has now prevented the relocation of thousands of UN personnel to Ethiopia, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Friday, calling the situation "unacceptable."

Ban last week accused the Eritrean government of endangering the lives and operations of the UN peacekeeping operations at the Eritrea-Ethiopia border by cutting off fuel supplies necessary for their work.

On Monday, he ordered the peacekeepers to move into Ethiopia, but only six vehicles of the advance units were allowed the cross the border while the rest were stopped by the Eritrean Defence Forces.

Ban said in a statement that on Thursday, UN personnel were threatened and their equipment seized. The Eritrean commercial company that provided food rations to the UN has stopped its contractual obligations.

"The mission has only a few days of emergency ration left," Ban said.

He called on the Eritrean government to "cease their obstruction of the relocation of the UN Mission in Eritrea-Ethiopia (UNMEE), and its equipment. The UN reiterates that this relocation is temporary and that Eritrea must immediately meet its international obligations to cooperate with the mission."

UNMEE has been monitoring a ceasefire between the two Horn of African nations, which fought a brief war over a portion of the border in the summer of 2000.

Ban said last week Eritrea cut off diesel supplies, which endangered the safety and security of the mission's personnel. Eritrea also blocked the UN from purshasing fuel.

The dispute over fuel supplies was the latest in the worsening relationship between Eritrea and the UN. Last year, Eritrea grounded all flights by the peacekeepers to monitor the border area.