February 7th, 2008 04:11 EST
The UN will withdraw from Eritrea unless
The UN will withdraw from Eritrea unless the east African country immediately lifts its restrictions on fuel supplies to its mission, the organization said in a press release on Wednesday.
The press release said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was deeply "concerned about the critical crisis facing the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) as a result of the stoppage of diesel fuel supplies to the Mission by the Government of Eritrea since December 1, 2007."
Last week, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in the troubled region for another six months. The mission has been deployed in Eritrea since 2000.
The UN secretary general said the mission's remaining stock of diesel fuel would run out in a couple of days, adding that he was particularly concerned about UNMEE personnel stationed in remote areas, where they dependent solely on power generators to preserve food and medical supplies.
"The Secretary-General has, therefore, informed the Security Council that if the fuel supplies are not reinstated by February 6, he will be compelled to instruct UNMEE to begin relocating the Mission's personnel and equipment from Eritrea, on a temporary basis," the press release said.
Eritrea fought a 30-year-long guerilla war before gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1993, but the border between the countries has never been officially demarcated.
In 1998 the countries entered another war in a dispute over the border town of Badme. The war, which left tens of thousands dead or wounded, ended in 2000 with an agreement negotiated by the UN.
In line with this Algiers Agreement, the UN established a 25 km (15.5 miles) demilitarized buffer zone, known as the Temporary Security Zone, along the length of the disputed border between the two countries. The zone is patrolled by UN troops and UNMEE personnel.