Wednesday, July 30, 2008

UNMEEeeeeeee ... !


The Security Council is on the verge of ending the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). A draft resolution submitted by Belgium and with the apparent support of the Council's members calls for the force to be terminated effective July 31. This marks the first ending of a peacekeeping mission in the three years that I've been here.

This all dates back to December 2005, where the Eritreans, mad that Ethiopia hadn't accepted the UN's ruling on where the border was between the two countries, banned helicopter flights by the UN on its side of the border. In addition to making it very hard to monitor the rugged terrain, this actually prevented some places from being accessed at all. (Turns out, the disputed area is so remote it can only be accessed by chopper, which makes you wonder why the two sides are fighting over it apart from naked pride.) Eventually, Eritrea cut fuel shipments to the UN force also, leading the UN to evacuate its forces from the Eritrean side and repatriate them to their home countries. After two years of cajoling, threats, and ultimatums, it appears the UN will finally lay the hammer down and withdraw the force.

So Eritrea and Ethiopia, you now have de facto permission to go back to war! Obviously the leaders want to anyway...

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