UNMEE media briefing notes 20 Dec 2002

from UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea
Published on 20 Dec 2002
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of the press briefing chaired in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa by UNMEE Spokeswoman, and Chief of UNMEE Public Information, Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte, via a videoconference linking Asmara and Addis Ababa.


On 17 December, the Officer In Charge (OIC) UNMEE Addis Ababa Mr. Leandre Bassole met with and briefed a delegation of Professional Staff Members from the US Congress on UNMEE and the current situation in the peace process. Ms. Joan Condon led the delegation.

On 15 December, SRSG Legwaila Joseph Legwaila departed the mission area to attend a conference in Entebbe, Uganda.

On 14 December, Mr. Bassole met with a high-level Finnish Military Delegation and briefed the group on the operations of the UNMEE Addis Office, and the working relationships between the civilian and military components. The same Finnish delegation later on paid a courtesy call on the SRSG and the Force Commander in Asmara.

Meanwhile, DSRSG (Addis Ababa) Mr. Cheikh-Tidiane Gaye returned to the Mission area on Wednesday of this week.


The overall situation in the Area Of Responsibility remains calm.

On the 18th December, a man was shot dead in the area of Maichea, in the Central Sector. His father identified the body, which has been handed over by UNMEE personnel to Ethiopian authorities. The incident is under rigorous investigations by UNMEE.

On 18th December, the medal parade of the Jordanian Hospital took place in Asmara.

The previous day -- 17th December -- the Bangladesh Engineering Company proved manually an area of 4,200 square metres along the road Maikogha - Mukuti and the Mine Dog Detection Team (MDDT) searched 4,200 Square metres along the same route. They also proved manually an area of 4,800 Square metres along the road Shambiko - Barentu while the MDDT searched a similar distance. The task will be completed by 3 January 2003.

On the 17th December, a Jordanian delegation to Sector West left the Sector for Asmara after completing their familiarization visit.

On the 14th December, a total of 337 civilians received medical treatment at Bada.


Following the emergency appeals launched by Eritrea on 19 November and by Ethiopia on 9 December, the European Union announced a pledge of 10 million Euros for Eritrea and approximately 70 million for Ethiopia. Although other countries have also pledged additional amounts to the emergency appeals of Eritrea and Ethiopia, the African Directors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund recently urged "donors to increase their assistance to deal with this enormous humanitarian crisis."

In Ethiopia 11.3 million people are listed as in need of approximately 1.4 million tons of food assistance and another 3 million people require close monitoring, while in Eritrea an estimated 2.3 million people are affected by drought and the effects of war.

UNMEE, which works closely with the UN Country Teams of both countries, also urges the donor community to support these emergency appeals.

Q and A

Question from Asmara: I understand the Italian Aviation Unit will be leaving soon. Who is going to replace it?

Spokeswoman: Yes the Italians are in fact leaving tomorrow. At the moment we have not had a replacement named as yet. But it is under consideration at the moment and I am sure in the coming weeks we will know who will replace them.

Question from Addis Ababa: What did the SRSG do in Entebbe in Uganda?

Spokeswoman: The SRSG attended a seminar organized by the Institute of Public Administration in Uganda on the theme "Building Peace in Eastern Africa." He was asked to speak on the " Role of UN in the Horn of Africa; Ethiopia and Eritrea Peace Process"

Question from Addis Ababa: Are there any further details yet about this man who was shot dead? And who is suspected to have shot him dead?

Spokeswoman: No, we have no further details at this time. The matter is under investigation. And as soon as we have more details after the investigation, we will give them to you. [Additional information provided to the Spokeswoman following the Briefing indicated that both Parties have nominated a delegate to go to the area and meet with the UNMEE Sector Commander to help identify measures to prevent a reoccurrence of such a tragedy. UNMEE sees this as a very positive development.]

Question from Addis Ababa: Is he a civilian?

Spokeswoman: Yes, he is a civilian.

Question from Addis Ababa: You don't know (his) age?

Spokeswoman: I do recall that he was about 35. [Latest report state that the deceased is in fact much older than previously reported]

Question from Addis Ababa: So when will this investigation be reported?

Spokeswoman: Those details I do not have at the moment.

Question from Addis Ababa: Could you just clarify that it says the task would be completed by the third of January, in the mine clearance? You're talking about that means the task in that specific area or the task in total?

Spokeswoman: No, I would assume that it is the task in that specific area in the areas in which they are talking about there.

(NOTE: Queries pertaining to the EEBC are to be referred to:

The Office of the Registrar (attention: Ms. Bette Shifman)
Eritrea/Ethiopia Boundary Commission, Permanent Court of Arbitration
Peace Palace, 2517 KJ, The Hague, The Netherlands
Telephone: +31 (0) 70 302 4167;
E-mail:shifman@pca-cpa.org; http://www.pca-cpa.org)

For additional information please contact:

Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte, Acting Chief of Public Information
UNMEE Headquarters Addis Ababa, telephone: 251-1-521364; Mobile: 251 9 223031
Or UNMEE Headquarters Asmara, telephone: 291-1-150411
or our tie-line in New York: 00-1-212-963-3779