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Ethiopia/Eritrea: Last peacekeepers leave UNMEE

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Addis Ababa, 15 October 2008: The last peacekeepers of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) returned home at the weekend. Sixty personnel from the rear party of the Indian Battalion (INDBATT V11) flew out of the northern Ethiopian town of Mekelle on Sunday following a farewell ceremony and presentations by Tsegay Berhe, President of the Regional State of Tigray. The peacekeeping troops had been based in the nearby town of Adigrat. Fifteen members of a remaining INDBATT Guard Contingent are expected to leave the country at the end of this week.

President Berhe, thanked UNMEE for its eight-year-long peacekeeping presence on the border and for the humanitarian activities that successive military battalions extended to adjacent communities. The UN Security Council decided not to renew UNMEE's mandate when it expired on 30 July.

The Acting Special Representative of the Secretary General, Azouz Ennifar, also thanked the troops and those who preceded them. "This was a difficult mission but you can go home knowing that you accomplished what you were sent to do," he said. "The parties remained at peace while UN military observers were stationed in the Temporary Security Zone and adjacent areas."

Mr. Ennifar stressed that the Mission had fulfilled its mandate from the Security Council. "UNMEE's job was to ensure that the parties respected the ceasefire and to support them when they were ready to demarcate their border," he said. "The Secretary General has mad