Eritrea + 1 more

UNMEE media briefing notes 28 Jul 2005

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A near verbatim transcript of the press briefing held by the Spokeswoman and Chief of Public Information, Gail Bindley-Taylor-Sainté in Asmara, via videoconference linking participants in Asmara and Addis Ababa. Also present at the briefing in Asmara was UNMEE Chief-of-Staff Colonel Samuel Nandwa.
POLITICAL

The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG)/Asmara, Officer-in-Charge (OIC)-UNMEE, Joel Adechi, on 22 July, met with the Eritrean Acting Chief Representative for the Commission for Coordination with the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, Colonel Zecarias Ogbagaber, with whom he discussed the current situation in the peace process.

MILITARY

General Overview

The general situation in the Mission area remains militarily stable. There have been no significant changes in troop locations or dispositions. UNMEE conducted 415 ground and 18 air reconnaissance patrols throughout the Area of Responsibility (AOR).

In all sectors, UNMEE peacekeepers continued to provide medical assistance to the local population, along with supplies of bulk water to civilian communities in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and the Adjacent Areas. Approximately 124,600 litres of water was supplied to the civilian communities during the past week.

Mine Action

The Bangladesh Engineering Company, working in Sector West, probed an area of 5,400 square metres along the Taula Gimuja-Kerhasha road and cleared an area of 3,600 square metres along the Barentu-Shilalo road.

The Kenyan Humanitarian De-mining Company, working in Sector West, probed manually an area of 28,717 square metres in the Grat Mariam minefields.

The civilian contractor, MECHEM continued its de-mining operations and manually cleared an area of 17.8 kilometres along roads in the Om Hajer area.

Meetings and Visits

The Force Commander, Major General Rajender Singh, left for New York on 23 July 2005 to attend the Heads of Military Component and Police Commissioners Conference. Earlier that day, he received the Commander of the US Central Command, General John Abizaid, at the UNMEE Headquarters.

The Deputy Force Commander, Brigadier General Abraham Wambugu, visited various posts and the United Nations Military Office (UNMO) Team Sites in Sectors Central and West.

UNMEE MACC

The MACC Programme/Training Officer (PTO), Andrea Poelling, will be in Addis Ababa from 25 until 27 July 2005 to discuss pending contract issues of the Mine Risk Education (MRE) team with the Ethiopian Mine Action Office (EMAO).

HUMAN RIGHTS

Fourteen of East Africa's leading journalists visited UNMEE on July 27 as part of a training programme sponsored by the London-based foundation, the Stanhope Centre for Communications Policy Research. The journalists were given a tour of the UNMEE Outreach Centre in Addis Ababa. The UNMEE documentary "Next Steps to Peace" was also screened for their benefit, after which they received briefings from Senior Political Affairs Officer Abdel Haireche, the Human Rights Officer Chris Mburu and Spokeswoman/Chief Public Information Officer Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte. The visit ended with a lively question and answer session, and it was closed by Ms. Sainte appealing to the regional media not to forget the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, simply because it is in a stalemate, as the impact of the non-demarcation of the border, she said, "is still very much felt by the people of the two countries."

Questions and Answers

Question [from Addis Ababa]: I was wondering what UNMEE's response would be towards a Reuters report that says 'war is imminent between Ethiopia and Eritrea'?

Spokeswoman: I haven't seen any such report this week. I am sorry, but I will have to check on that, but as we have said, the situation as far as we know is stable on the ground and we have no such indications at this point in time.

The Spokeswoman would like noted that the report referred to above by the journalist, appeared in an Amharic language newspaper quoting Reuters as the source. PIO has not been able to confirm the actual Reuters story and notes this is the only reference appearing in the local language media to date.

For further enquires please contact:

Gail Bindley-Taylor-Sainte, Spokeswoman and Chief, Public Information Office or UNMEE Headquarters Asmara, Telephone: 291-1-150411- extension 6017

or our tie-line in New York: 00-1-212-963-3779-Ext 6017or UNMEE Headquarters Addis Ababa, telephone: 251-1-726895 extension 7045.

UNMEE Website: http://www.unmeeonline.org