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UN Security Council Shuts Down Ethiopia-Eritrea Peacekeeping Mission

The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to shut down its peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea after difficulties from both nations. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

It took the council several months to come to its ultimate decision, but on Wednesday, it voted to shut down the 1,700-strong force that operates on the border of the two feuding Horn of Africa neighbors, instead of renewing its mandate which expires on Thursday.

Belgium's Ambassador, Jan Grauls, whose delegation drafted the resolution, said it was the fault of both nations that the mission was no longer able to implement its mandate.

"As a peacekeeping mission, UNMEE was gradually restricted in its freedom of movement by Eritrea to the point of being forced to leave the buffer zone that it was initially to monitor," said Grauls. "As an administrative and logistical support mission for border demarcation, UNMEE has also been increasingly hindered in this area by Ethiopia's refusal to implement the decision of EEBC [Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission]."

He said the Algiers Agreement of 2000 that ended the war, and the EEBC, remain the legal foundation upon which dialogue will now need to be built. He called on both sides to cooperate on the process of terminating the mission. Many of the forces have already been repatriated, while they waited for a decision from the Council.

The U.N. has warned that a new war could erupt if the peacekeepers leave entirely.

Ethiopia and Eritrea have feuded over their border since Eritrea gained independence in 1993 after a 30-year war.