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Continued support necessary to finalize Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process - Annan

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While progress has been made, the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process is now at a critical stage and the international community should continue lending its support in order to finalize the border demarcation, according to a report by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan released today in New York.
In a report to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) since last December, Mr. Annan highlights key developments and gives an update on Boundary Commission activities.

"On balance, the parties have generally been cooperating well through this process," Mr. Annan says. "However, it is now time for them to translate their commitments into real action on the ground, namely, the implementation of the 13 April 2002 delimitation decision."

The Secretary-General says while the two parties should be commended for the fact that there have been no serious ceasefire violations since the establishment of the Temporary Security Zone, recent cross-border incidents are a source of concern.

Also of serious concern to Mr. Annan are "forceful" demarches made by the two parties to his Special Representative and the Boundary Commission. "Efforts to reopen fundamental matters already settled through binding arbitration could only be counterproductive," he notes.

"The period ahead will pose major challenges," Mr. Annan adds, renewing his appeal for contributions to facilitate the demarcation process scheduled for completion in November. He also stresses that the humanitarian consequences of the demarcation process must be heeded, especially with the serious drought affecting the two countries.

The Council is scheduled to hold a meeting later today of countries contributing troops to the UN Mission, and meet for consultations tomorrow to discuss the Secretary-General's report.

Meanwhile, the UN Coordinator for Eritrea, Simon Nhongo, is scheduled to arrive in New York tomorrow to meet with key donors in a bid to boost funding for UN humanitarian activities.

The UN appeal for Eritrea has so far received a mere two per cent of the $163 million requested, hardly enough to help the 1.4 million people affected by the drought that had contributed to serious food shortages. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it fears that the aid reserves will run out by the end of this month.