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The BBC's Alice Coulter
"Both sides have disputed the 600 mile border"
 real 56k

UN spokesman, Farhan Haq
"An initial mandate has already been approved by the Security Council"
 real 28k

Eritrean ambassador to the UN, Haile Menkerios
"Any trust between our two countries has been lost"
 real 28k

Friday, 11 August, 2000, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
UN chief seeks Horn force boost
Landmines
Many landmines remain in the border region
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended a major expansion of the UN peacekeeping force monitoring the ceasefire between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In a report to the UN Security Council he calls for the deployment of 4,200 soldiers - including infantry, engineers and mine-clearers - on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border. They would reinforce about 100 military observers already there.

Ethiopian troops after capturing Zalambesa
Both sides in the conflict suffered heavy casualties
Mr Annan said a full-scale peacekeeping operation was needed to monitor the ceasefire signed in Algiers on 18 June.

This brought to an end a two-year border war in which thousands of soldiers on both sides were said to have died in First-World-War style trench fighting.

If the security council endorses the proposal, it will be another sizeable expansion of the UN's peacekeeping role. In the past year, it has launched big new operations in Sierra Leone and East Timor.

Mr Annan said the Ethiopian and Eritrean Governments had shown a commitment to creating the conditions for peace and prosperity.

Planned 4,200-strong UN force
Three infantry battalions totalling 2,390 troops
585 mine clearance soldiers
220 military observers
HQ staff, military police, medical and transport units
The UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (Unmee) would also supervise a temporary security zone along the disputed border, verify that both sides had drawn their troops back outside artillery range and clear landmines planted in the area.

The force would monitor the redeployment of Ethiopian forces and the positions of Eritrean troops, separated by a 25km buffer zone on the Eritrean side of the contested border.

The UN mission would end once the disputed border had been delimited and demarcated.

Mr Annan's report is based on the results of a UN reconnaissance mission, headed by Major-General Timothy Ford of Australia, which visited the region in July.

Region devastated by war

Eritrea is a former province of Ethiopia which became independent in 1993 with Ethiopia's backing. However, both sides have disputed the border. Fighting, which began in 1998, flared up again in May.

Millions were made homeless by the fighting and the situation has been aggravated by a severe drought in the region.

The security council is expected to vote on Mr Annan's recommendation later this month.


The people of Eritrea and Ethiopia have suffered terrible losses during two long years of war

Kofi Annan

If it backs the plan, Unmee will be larger than all but three of the 14 current peacekeeping operations.

The 18 June ceasefire agreement was brokered by the Organisation of African Unity and envoys from the United States and European Union.

The OAU has also promised to send military and civilian observers to monitor the accord, but has not provided details on numbers.

Mr Annan said Unmee would also need "significant air assets" including helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to support the mission.

Dense minefields

The no-man's-land on the border includes "dense minefields containing a mix of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines," the report said.

Although Eritrea and Ethiopia were reported to have destroyed or removed large numbers of mines, "neither side has sufficient technical means to conduct mine clearance to international humanitarian standards", Mr Annan wrote.

He urged Eritrea and Ethiopia to "exercise every restraint and avoid provocative moves in complying with the commitments they made" under the Algiers agreement.

"The people of Eritrea and Ethiopia have suffered terrible losses during two long years of war," he said.

"Their governments have now shown the commitment to create conditions for peace and prosperity," he added.

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | Africa
UN to monitor Horn ceasefire
05 May 00 | Africa
UN failing in Africa
12 Jul 00 | Africa
Half of Eritrea needs aid
15 Jun 00 | Africa
UN highlights Horn crisis
17 Apr 00 | Africa
Famine threat across the Horn
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