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» 10.12.2010 - Djibouti sees Eritrea President as "lunatic"
» 26.05.2010 - Eritrea "intimidates emigrants into paying tax"
» 23.04.2010 - Eritrea desperate to undo UN sanctions
» 04.01.2010 - Eritrea was provoked - government
» 11.12.2009 - 30 Christian women arrested in Eritrea
» 21.10.2009 - Eritrea is the bottom last in Press Freedom Index 2009
» 10.08.2009 - Eritrea dismiss insurgents support allegations as smear campaign
» 14.07.2009 - Eritrea not backing militancy – Presidency

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UN blames peacekeeper's death on Eritrea

afrol News, 3 March - An Indian UN peacekeeper in Eritrea lost his life because he could not be evacuated to a hospital rapidly enough after falling ill. The UN blames the Eritrean government for his death because Asmara has posed restrictions on the free movement of its peacekeepers, which caused the late evacuation. The UN Security Council urges Eritrea to lift the controversial restrictions.

The UN Security Council today reiterated its demand that Eritrea lift all restrictions on the operations of the UN's peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), in the wake of a peacekeeper's death after a medical evacuation that took much longer than necessary due to the ban on UN helicopter flights.

"Members of the Council regret that the death occurred in the circumstances of the unacceptable restrictions imposed by the government of Eritrea on the operations of UNMEE, which have grave implications on the safety of its staff and which must be lifted without further delay," said a press statement delivered today by the current President of the UN Security Council, César Mayoral of Argentina.

Yesterday evening, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also called on Eritrea to lift the restrictions, while expressing condolences to the family of the deceased - a sentiment echoed by UN Security Council Members today. Eritrean authorities must "lift without delay the arbitrary restrictions which place at risk the lives of United Nations personnel," Mr Annan demanded.

The peacekeeper, member of the Indian contingent of UNMEE, suffered a cardiac arrest in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) between Eritrea and Ethiopia and was pronounced dead after having been evacuated to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

According to UNMEE, Lance Corporal Kamble Ramesh Annappa first succumbed in the early hours of the morning and died soon after arrival at the Ethiopian hospital at 2 pm local time.

"It is pertinent to note that this soldier could have been evacuated to Asmara, Eritrea, in a much shorter time frame since a helicopter was available at the Battalion Headquarters in Adigrat," UNMEE said in its briefing notes yesterday, specifying a 45 to 50 minute flight time to the UN hospital in the Eritrean capital. The distance to Addis Ababa is about six to seven times bigger.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bitter border war between 1998 and 2000 and the UN monitored Temporary Security Zone now separates the two countries. Eritrea has been critical of the UN for not forcing Ethiopia to accept the border delineated in 2002, awarding Badme - the town that triggered the border conflict - to Eritrea.

In addition to the ban on overflights by its helicopters, Eritrea has barred peacekeepers of European and North American nationalities from its territory and UNMEE patrols face restrictions on their movements. The UN Security Council on several occasions has obliged Eritrea to lift the restrictions, but the Asmara government has refused to do so.

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