7 September 2006

Secretary-General Dismayed by Eritrean Decision to Expel Five UN Security Personnel; Calls for Release of Detained UN Mission Staff Member

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

The Secretary-General is dismayed by the Eritrean Government's decision to expel from Eritrea five United Nations security personnel.  He is also concerned about the recent arrest of a staff member of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) by the Eritrean authorities, and their refusal to provide access to him and explain the reasons for this arrest.  These actions contravene Eritrea's obligations under the United Nations Charter, the Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, and the model status-of-forces agreement which applies to UNMEE's operations in the country.

The Secretary-General urges the Eritrean authorities to rescind their decision on the United Nations personnel, release the detained UNMEE staff member, and provide urgent clarification on their actions, while the United Nations investigates the unsubstantiated allegations.

The Secretary-General expresses his deep concern about the pattern of hostility at the United Nations in Eritrea, and calls on the Government to end its public campaign against UNMEE, and fully cooperate with this important peacekeeping mission and other United Nations agencies operating in the country.

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