Saturday, October 22, 2005

Eritrea rejects UN flight request

Snippets from BBC correspondent Elizabeth Blunt's report today:

If Ethiopia and Eritrea go to war again, Eritrea would almost certainly lose, and yet it is Eritrea which provoked the present crisis.

Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of secretly moving troops to the border, while Eritrea says Ethiopia is not to be trusted.

Eritrea is suffering from a prolonged humanitarian catastrophe, the UN says, with 2.3 million people facing a lack of food.

More than 3,000 UN troops patrol the border zone under the terms of the December 2000 peace plan that followed a two-year border war.

Eritrea has rejected a plea from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to lift a ban on peacekeeping flights along its tense border with Ethiopia.

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki told Mr Annan: "You cannot claim the legal, political, moral or humanitarian high ground on matters of law."

Eritrea banned UN helicopter flights in its airspace on 5 October.

Mr Annan has warned that the UN may have to pull its troops out if the flight ban remains in place.

Note, Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia in 1993, after Ethiopian and Eritrean rebel movements overthrew the Derg regime in Addis Ababa.


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