Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Tensions Rising

Restrictions on U.N. Peacekeepers Increase on Tense Ethiopia-Eritrea Border, U.N Spokeswoman Says
Eritrean authorities keep placing more restrictions on U.N peacekeepers patrolling the tense border with Ethiopia, a U.N spokeswoman said Thursday. U.N. and other observers fear tension could escalate into a new war.
Ethiopian and Eritrean troop movements are continuing along the 621-mile border, said Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte, spokeswoman for the U.N. mission to the two countries.
"The restrictions have increased almost daily," Sainte said during a regular briefing for journalists via video link from the Eritrean capital of Asmara. "Before the restrictions were more sporadic, now we have almost daily restrictions."A ban on helicopter flights imposed by Eritrea has cut their monitoring capacity by more than half, the U.N mission estimates. Almost all night patrols have been curtailed and restrictions on vehicle and troop patrols have "increased considerably," Sainte said.
Sainte said the restrictions were heightening suspicions along the frontier and the situation remained "tense and potentially volatile."
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war, but the border between the two was never formally demarcated. A border war that erupted in 1998 killed tens of thousands of people and cost both countries an estimated $1 million a day.


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