Eritrean charge of incursion by Ethiopian troops
ASMARA, ERITREA Dec 9, 2004 (AFP) - The UN's Mission in Ethiopia and
Eritrea (UNMEE) is investigating Eritrean claims that Ethiopian troops have
entered its territory, UNMEE force commander Major-General Rajender Singh said
"Ethiopia has denied Eritrea's accusations. An investigation is under
progress and it would be premature to say anything now," Singh told a
press conference in Asmara.
Eritrea charged on Wednesday that Ethiopian troops entered its southern
region of Senafe late November and "set fire to 10 houses and kidnapped
"Efforts had been made to find solutions through UNMEE to no
avail," the Eritrean Coordination Commission, set up to work with UNMEE,
said Wednesday in a statement.
Singh said on Thursday, however, that regular meetings between UNMEE,
Eritrea and Ethiopia were held in "a cordial and constructive
Asked what he would do if the Eritrean accusations were true, he said he
would "bring the issue to notice of relevant authorities and the UN
headquarters", but declined to give further details.
"Considering the total number of UNMEE troops, not all can be known by
us, as there are large gaps in many areas of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ),
which runs along the 1,000-kilometre (625-mile) border between the two Horn of
Africa nations," he said.
Singh confirmed that UNMEE's troops will be downsized by 500 soldiers by the
end of January 2005, in order to reduce the UNMEE budget, which is 200 million
dollars (151 million euros) a year, according to the UN.
"But even if the number of his troops were increased from the current
size of 3,600, it would be virtually impossible to know each and every
incident," Singh insisted.
"The situation in the TSZ continues to be stable and peaceful, there
are no major incidents," he concluded.
Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war from 1998 to 2000 and ever since
the situation has been tense between the two neighbours.