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UNMEE press briefing notes 07 Mar 2007

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POLITICAL

On 27 February, the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary General (ASRSG), Azouz Ennifar, briefed a group of Ambassadors accredited to Ethiopia from Africa, Europe and Asia on the recent progress report of the SG and the tenets of Resolution 1741 (2007), as well as on the current situation in the Mission area. Meanwhile, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG), Lebohang Moleko, met with Eritrea's Commissioner for Coordination with the Peacekeeping, Col. Zecarias Ogbagaber. They exchanged views on the peace process.

On 04, 05 and 06 March, DSRSG Moleko and the Force Commander, Major General Mohammed Taisir Masadeh, held meetings with the Ambassadors of Britain and France in Asmara to discuss circumstances surrounding the abduction of the British nationals in northern Ethiopia and the assistance that can be provided by UNMEE. In Addis Ababa, the Head of Office/Addis, Joseph Stephanides, met the British Defence Attache who provided an update on the abduction case. In consultation with the host country and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), UNMEE assured the Ambassadors that is stands ready to provide medical and logistical support to the rescue process, if and when the need arises.

MILITARY

General Overview

The military situation in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and Adjacent Areas remained volatile and tense, with routine troop movements observed on both sides in Sector Centre, Sector West and Sub-Sector East.

The Eritrean ban on UNMEE flights is still in place, and UNMEE patrols continue to face restrictions inside the TSZ, particularly in Sector West as well as in Sector Centre. Despite these restrictions, UNMEE continued to discharge its tasks throughout its Area of Responsibility (AOR) during the reporting period.

Demining

In Sector Centre, the Kenyan Deming Company cleared, inside the TSZ, an area of 56,440 square metres near Tsorena, 1,772 square metres near Egri Mekel and 4,220 square metres in general area Mai Aini. Mechem, in the Sector Centre, also cleared 42,631 square metres near Egri Mekel inside the TSZ.

Mechem, in Sector West, cleared 26.1 kilometres inside the TSZ near the vicinity of Shilalo. It also cleared 103.2 kilometres of the road Shiraro - Humera near Humera, 12.7 kilometres near Gobalale and 11.8 kilometres of road near Rawiyan.

Humanitarian Assistance:

In all Sectors, UNMEE peacekeepers continued to provide medical assistance to the local population. Veterinarian support was also given in Sector Centre.

Jordanian Contingent Rotation and Handover Ceremony.

The Jordanian Battalion (JORBATT) rotation which commenced on 16 February 2007 was completed on 25 February. The rotation is in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1741 (2007). A total of 830 troops from JORBATT-12 were replaced by 560 troops of JORBATT-13. On 21 February, a command transfer ceremony was held at Barentu, Sector West Headquarters in Eritrea. Brigadier General Abu Belal Huq, Deputy Force Commander, reviewed the parade and witnessed the flag handover on behalf of the Force Commander. General Belal also handed over the Unit Citation to JORBATT-12 Commander for the dedicated service of the Battalion to UNMEE during their period of assignment.

Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC)

The Route Clearance Team (RCT) Team deployed to Humera, Sector West and conducted mine clearance activities in Adu Baye Village. The Integrated Demining Capacity (IDC) teams continued to work in the Egri Mekel minefield in Tserona, Sector Centre, within the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). The teams cleared 89.6 kilometres of road and an area of 91,232 square metres during this deployment.

The MACC Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team deployed to the Northern side of the Temporary Security Zone in the Tserona Area of Sector Centre. The Team conducted an assessment on the unexploded ordnance (UXOs) in the areas surrounding Arazen, Welesho, May Agam, Ayba, Ednabastifanos and Gemae. They also performed a UXO demolition task in Egri Mekel, destroying a total of 13 UXO's.

Two Mine Risk Education (MRE) Teams deployed to Sector West (Sub Zone of Lalay-Gash) and Sector Centre (sub zone of Tserona), where they conducted MRE activities to 475 people affected by mines and explosive remnants of war.

The MACC Force Mine Action Centre (FMAC) in Asmara conducted MRE training for two UNMEE civilian staff members and three UNICEF staff members.

HUMAN RIGHTS

The UNMEE Chief of the Human Rights Office, Mamadi Diakite, held a meeting with the ICRC Deputy Head of Delegation in Eritrea on 2 March 2007 to discuss possible collaboration in the formulation of a Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) on search, identification, recovery and disposal of mortal remains for future use in the Mission's Area of Responsibility.

Earlier in the week, the Human Rights Officer in Addis Ababa met with representatives of the Federal Police Department, to explore the possibility of conducting human rights promotional activities for law enforcement officials, aimed at improving the overall human rights protection system.

For further enquires please contact:

Musi Khumalo, Deputy Chief of Public Information, UNMEE Headquarters Asmara, Telephone: 291-1-150411 Ext 6017
or our tie-line in New York: 00-1-212-963-3779-Ext 6017
or UNMEE Headquarters Addis Ababa, Telephone: 251-1-372-6895 extension 7059/7076
UNMEE Website: http://www.unmeeonline.org