- The UN Security Council today threatened actions against Eritrea and Ethiopia, which could include sanctions, if the two neighbours do not stop undermining the peace agreement. Eritrea could face sanctions alone if the country does not reverse its restrictions on the movement of UN peacekeepers.
The Algiers peace agreement of 2000 has failed and Eritrea and Ethiopia are closer than ever to return to the bloody warfare experienced in 1998-2000. Ethiopia blames the crazy and hostile regime in Asmara, which is unwilling to normalise diplomatic ties. Eritrea blame UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for not using his powers to force Addis Ababa to accept the border ruling handed down by an international commission.
This has been the case for several years. In middle, the UN peacekeeping force UNMEE has been caught in an increasingly hostile environment at the border they are trying to demark and monitor. Eritrea's recent decision to ban UNMEE flights in its airspace, including necessary helicopter flights in the border area, caused a military build up on both sides of the border.
Enough is enough, the UN Security Council unanimously decided today. The Council demanded that Eritrea, "without delay or preconditions," reverse its 4 October decision to ban UNMEE's helicopter flights, along with any other restrictions on their mandated operations.
It also demanded that Ethiopia accept the agreed-upon Boundary Commission's final and binding decisions concerning the demarcation of the border between the two countries, and that both parties return to their December 2004 levels of troop deployment within thirty days, refraining from threats or the use of force.
Regarding Eritrea's flight ban and both countries' troop redeployments along the border, the UN Security Council said it would use the means of enforcement that are at its disposition. These include sanctions. Eritrea thus is singled out, having two different threats of sanctions hanging over its shoulders.
The UN Security Council did not threaten Ethiopia with sanctions should Addis Ababa fail to accept the border ruling. This is seen as a defeat and great injustice in Asmara, where Eritrean President Issayas Afewerki for two has blamed Mr Annan for not living up to his duties as a guarantor for the Algiers peace. Eritrea is bound to protest the Security Council's ruling.
The UN however earlier has made it clear that it is fed up with Eritrea's unwillingness to cooperate with the expensive peacekeeping operation and will not tolerate further restrictions. Both the UN Security Council and Mr Annan have previously called on Eritrea to lift the ban, which has forced UNMEE to evacuate 18 of its posts in the Temporary Security Zone between the two countries, and endangered peacekeepers who need to be evacuated for medical treatment.
Mr Annan has warned that the situation could lead to another round of "devastating hostilities". "The situation is very grave, very serious," current Security Council chairman Andrei Denisov told the press in New York after the resolution. The UN earlier this week evacuated several family members of its staff in face of the deteriorating situation.
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