Press Releases

    7 October 2005

    Secretary-General Calls on Eritrea to Reverse Flight Restrictions on UN Mission

    NEW YORK, 6 October (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

    The Secretary-General learned on 4 October that the Eritrean authorities have decided to restrict all types of helicopter flights by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) within Eritrean air space, effective as of 5 October 2005.  In view of the seriousness of the matter, the Security Council met yesterday evening to consider the situation at the request of the Secretary-General.

    The Secretary-General is very concerned about Eritrea's decision, which will seriously limit UNMEE's operational capacity to implement its mandate as requested by the parties and authorized by the Security Council.  This development could exacerbate the existing suspicions at the border area and create instability.  The restriction will also negatively affect the security of UNMEE personnel and their operations.  The Secretary-General wishes to stress that freedom of movement is a fundamental principle of all peacekeeping missions.

    The Secretary-General joins the Security Council in calling for the Government of Eritrea to immediately reverse its decision, and for both parties to show maximum restraint.  The Secretary-General insists on the urgent necessity to bring the peace process to a conclusion by fully implementing the Algiers Agreements and the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission and by engaging in political dialogue.

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    *              Revised for technical reasons.