( dpa )- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has instructed the UN peacekeeping operation monitoring the Eritrea-Ethiopia border to repatriate its troops except forces needed to secure equipment, the UN said Thursday.
Prompted by a dispute with the Eritrean government, the UN had relocated most of the 1,300-strong mission to the capital, Asmara, and Assab, from the temporary security zone along the border, where it had been monitoring the 2000 ceasefire agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
But conditions in three military camps in Asmara were "substandard and congested," and ad hoc facilities did not suit the UN troops, Ban said. He therefore ordered the UN to send most of the troops to their home countries pending a decision of the UN Security Council in New York about the fate of the mission.
Ban said the necessary troops from India, Jordan and Kenya would remain in Asmara to look over equipment and help in the transportation of other UN peace troops. Those who will soon complete their tour of duties will be repatriated and others will go to Ethiopia.
Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a brief war in 2000 over a disputed portion of the border.
Last year, Eritrea, unhappy with the UN mission, clamped down on UN helicopter flights and in January began halting fuel supplies for the troops. The council in New York in February condemned Eritrea for its action, which caused the large-scale relocation of UN troops.