Eritrea + 1 more

UNMEE media briefing notes 9 Jun 2005

News and Press Release
Originally published
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 the UNMEE Chief- of- Staff Colonel Samuel Nandwa.

On 2 June, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila met with His Excellency Gerard Sambrana, Ambassador of France to Eritrea and exchanged views on the latest developments in the peace process.

On 3 June, the SRSG presented to the Chairman of the Eritrean National Association for the Deaf (ERINAD) a cash donation of 18,000 Nakfa that was contributed by UNMEE staff through the UNMEE Welfare Committee. Both the SRSG and the ERINAD Chairman stressed the importance of peace for the development of the Eritrean people, including the deaf, whom they both agreed, were severely disadvantaged in times of conflict.

On 6 June, the SRSG left Asmara for Addis Ababa, to hold consultations with stakeholders in the peace process.

On the same day, the SRSG met with the Ambassador of the United States to Ethiopia and exchanged views with her on possible scenarios for a way forward out of the stalemate in the peace process.


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 625 ground and 26 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 244,000 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 10,920 square metres along the Shilalo to Barentu Road.

The Kenyan Humanitarian De-mining Company, working in Sector West, probed manually a total area of 63,313 square metres in the Sheshebit minefield.

Mechem (the civilian contractor) continued its de-mining operations and manually cleared an area of 37.6 Kilometers along the road Mukuti to Antore.

Disposal of UXOs

On 2 June 05, MACC destroyed one hand grenade and one artillery shell in Nedwe and Monoxito villages respectively.


The new UNMEE MACC Mine Action Liaison Officer (MALO) for Addis Ababa, Lieutenant Colonel Kingori, arrived in the Mission area and is in the process of completing his induction programme. Lt. Col. Kingori is an UNMO seconded to the MACC and is from Kenya. He will assume his responsibilities in Addis Ababa next week.

The MACC is pleased to report that that there have been no new mine/UXO incidents reported in the Temporary Security Zone and Adjacent Areas since the beginning of May 2005.

Conduct of Veterinary Camp

On 06 June 2005, a Veterinary Camp was organized by Indbatt at Mai Tsada in Sector Centre. A total of 2,483 animals were treated.

Meeting and Visits

During the week, the Force Commander Major General Rajender Singh visited various posts and Team Sites in Sector Centre.

Questions and Answers

Question [from Asmara]: Concerning this MACC report: "there have been no new mine/UXO incidents in the month of May" is it the first month without incidents since UNMEE MACC began working?

Spokeswoman: This is my understanding. I will just check with the Chief of Staff. Is it the understanding that since the last incident, in the month of May that we haven't had any further incidents?

Chief of Staff: Yes

Question [from Asmara]: Is it the first month without incidents?

Spokeswoman: Meaning since UNMEE has been here?

Question [from Asmara]: Yes.

Spokeswoman: No, not at all, we have had several months on a stretch when there have been no incidents. It is just this year because we had a few that suddenly came up, and then May has been a month when there has been absolutely no incidents reported.

Question [from Asmara]: Does UNMEE have any comments to make on the violence happening in Ethiopia?

Spokeswoman: Of course the SRSG regrets the violence that is taking place. I am sure that you have seen the UN Secretary-General's concerns as reflected in his statement. Yesterday a statement was made in New York and we have issued that statement to you, which we hope you will use because it clearly says that he is concerned about the violence and he is calling for the resolution of the differences between the government and the opposition in a peaceful manner. I think in particular we regret the loss of lives.

Question [from Asmara]: Can you tell us more about the meeting between the SRSG and the US Ambassador to Ethiopia?

Spokeswoman: No, I have no further details on that and usually with meetings between the SRSG and diplomats we never ever give you everything that they speak about because some of that is confidential. What makes this peace process unique and interesting is how it moves forward and this is part of what you see reflected in these types of discussions.

Question [from Asmara]: So, maybe it's confidential.

Spokeswoman: It's not "maybe," it is confidential. All the meetings between the SRSG and Ambassadors are confidential. When we have something major to report we have the SRSG come and brief you on what has been said. This is how the process moves forward, by his constant contacts with all the major stakeholders and as you know the US is a major stakeholder in this process.

Question [from Asmara]: I mean, it's obvious that the US has a good influence in this region. What's their effort to break this deadlock on this peace process?

Spokeswoman: I think they have been in constant touch with UNMEE. Whenever the SRSG goes to Ethiopia he briefs the Ambassadors there and has bilateral meetings with a number of key stakeholders including the US on a very regular basis. He does that also in Eritrea when he is here. The contact with key stakeholders in the peace process is constant.

Question [from Asmara]: What's the influence of this Ethiopian election on this peace process? What is its influence?

Spokeswoman: Well, that is hard to tell at this stage. I think the peace process goes on, but of course elections are an important way of people voicing how they feel and they which allows democracy to take place and in that context it is something we are (observing) as a Mission which is in this host country, so from that perspective it is a point of interest for us.

Question [from Asmara]: Does it shift the all scenario to the election rather than to the peace process?

Spokeswoman: You are asking me to speculate. I think elections in any country are important for the citizens of that country, so perhaps yes, peoples' minds are more focused on the elections than they are on the peace process at this time, but we hope that the peace process is also a very important matter for the citizens of both countries, and that its still on their agendas.

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: