BBC World News – 2008-02-18 00:46:21
UN Troops ‘Trapped’ in Eritrea
(February 16, 2008) — The United Nations has condemned Eritrea, accusing it of preventing hundreds of peacekeepers from crossing from Eritrea into Ethiopia.
The UN ordered its regional force to withdraw to Ethiopia after the Eritrean government cut off its fuel supplies. But the UN says only six vehicles have been allowed to leave, some troops have been threatened at gunpoint and now their rations have been stopped. Eritrea denied blocking their departure saying its supplies had simply run out.
In an emergency session on Friday, the 15-member UN Security Council expressed “deep concern about the impediments and logistical constraints” faced by the force.
Jean-Marie Guehenno, head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, told reporters: “It’s a very serious situation. We’re running out of fuel, we’re running out of food.”
The UN peacekeepers were sent eight years ago to monitor a border security zone after the war which killed tens of thousands of people between Eritrea and Ethiopia in the late 1990s.
The Eritreans are angry about Ethiopia’s failure to hand over the disputed town of Badme – which a boundary commission set up after the war awarded to Eritrea – and want the international community to put pressure on Ethiopia to withdraw.
Having lost patience with the UN, Eritrea cut off fuel supplies to the UN’s 1,400 troops and 200 military observers.
The BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt in Ethiopia says Eritrea may be hoping the UN force will abandon some vehicles and communication equipment. But the Eritrean ambassador to the UN, Araya Desta, told the BBC his country simply did not have any more supplies to spare.
He added that the Security Council’s reaction had been “outrageous”. “To victimise the victim is ridiculous and shameful for the council,” Mr Desta said. The government in Addis Ababa said it would co-operate in letting the troops relocate to northern Ethiopia.
• Dec 2000: Peace agreement
• Apr 2002: Border ruling
• Mar 2003: Ethiopian complaint over Badme rejected
• Oct 2005: Eritrea restricts peacekeepers’ activities
• Nov 2005: UN sanctions threat if no compliance with 2000 deal
• Dec 2007: Deadline to demarcate the border expires without agreement
• Dec 2007: Eritrea cuts fuel supplies to the UN
• Feb 2008: UN warns of a return to war as it withdraws from Eritrea
© BBC MMVIII
Soldiers Held in Munitions Probe
BBC World News
LONDON (February 18, 2008) — Three soldiers from The Royal Regiment of Scotland have been arrested on suspicion of theft of munitions, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. The investigation involved English and Scottish police.
The soldiers, who serve with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, were arrested on Friday in Canterbury in Kent, where they are currently based.
Strathclyde Police said the arrests were part of a joint operation between themselves and Kent Police. The Ministry of Defence said it was co-operating fully with Kent Police.
The arrests were the result of an investigation into an alleged plot to steal munitions in England, which were then supplied to people in the Strathclyde area.
Strathclyde Police said those being held were two men aged 36 and 27 and one woman aged 26. They said four men aged 27, 25, 25 and 20 are also “the subject of a report to the procurator fiscal for a variety of offences under the firearms act and explosives substances act”.
The arrests come as the 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) prepare to deploy to Afghanistan.