On 16 March 2007, the United Nations Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) received a communication from the Eritrean authorities informing the Mission of the Government's decision to request Mr. David Bax, Programme Manager of UNMEE-Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC), to leave the country "for good" before 20 March 2007. In their communication, the Eritrean authorities made reference to "repeated violations of Eritrean laws and regulations by UNMEE-MACC management". UNMEE does not agree with this decision or the rationale given, but has complied with the expulsion order and Mr. Bax has already left Eritrea.
In addition to the helicopter ban in place since October 2005, the expulsion in December 2005 of over 180 UNMEE staff on the basis of their nationality and the restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNMEE patrols, this latest action of the Eritrean authorities will further affect the Mission's capacity to perform its functions as mandated by the Security Council.
Established in August 2000 as part of UNMEE, MACC has coordinated and helped implement mine action programmes in Eritrea and Ethiopia. It has also supported both the peacekeeping operation and the humanitarian relief efforts in the Temporary Security Zone and Adjacent Areas. MACC's activities help to ensure the mobility and safety of the Peacekeeping Force and to educate the local population to live safely in environments that are affected by the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance.
For additional information contact
Musi Khumalo, Deputy Chief: Public Information Office: Addis Ababa, phone: 251-1-726895 Ext 7104; Asmara, phone: 291-1-151908 Ext 6017; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.unmeeonline.org