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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 May, 2004, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
UN-Eritrea row sinks to new low
UN peacekeepers clear mines on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border
UN peacekeepers have been accused of severe crimes
The UN has delivered an ultimatum to Eritrea after relations between the two sunk to a new low.

The UN said Eritrea must cooperate with its peacekeeping force patrolling the border with Ethiopia, or else ask the UN to leave.

The UN says its staff have been illegally detained, while Eritrea accuses the peacekeepers of serious crimes including paedophilia.

Eritrea also claims the UN is destabilising the region.

The UN Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (Unmee) patrols a 1,000km (620 mile) border between the two Horn of Africa countries, which fought a war between 1998 and 2000 that is thought to have killed more than 70,000 people.

Defacing currency

Eritrea broadcast a statement on Thursday alleging a string of offences committed by Unmee, including housing criminals, paedophilia, making pornography and even using the national currency as toilet paper.

An Unmee report last June quoted Eritrean women as saying Irish peacekeepers on the mission had used prostitutes as young as 15.

The Eritrean government said: "The fact that Unmee has to date not taken any concrete actions and shown no co-operation to correct its modus operandi and clean up its activities, exposes to grave danger the peace and stability of the people and government of Eritrea, as well as the security and stability of our region."


The UN said it was shocked by the latest accusations.

It said Eritrea was making its mission impossible, detaining local staff and restricting the movement of its vehicles.

"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 in a statement.

"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."

Earlier this week the UN Security Council criticised both Ethiopia and Eritrea for a lack of progress towards peace.

UN accuses Horn rivals
05 May 04  |  Africa
Eritrea 'shifts' on Horn peace
08 Apr 04  |  Africa
Eritrea denies new Horn talks
05 Mar 04  |  Africa
Horn tensions trigger UN warning
04 Feb 04  |  Africa

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