United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE)

28 July 2000 - 7 February 2003
Military personnel

In December 1950, Ethiopia and Eritrea formed a federation, led by Emperor Haile Selassie. In 1962, Eritrea was annexed by Ethiopia, against the will of many Eritreans. Those opposed to the annexation organised themselves into resistance movements. After the Ethiopian communists had brought down the monarchy in 1974, the Eritrean resistance rioted publicly against the government in Addis Ababa.

With the help of the Ethiopian resistance, they managed to bring down the regime of the communist Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. Eritrea separated from Ethiopia in 1993. Even though the separation had the consent of both parties, they failed to accurately demarcate the border between the 2 countries.

2-year war

Both countries drew on the past to decide the border dispute in their favour. The mutual rhetoric intensified in 1997 and culminated in May 1998 in a war that was to last for 2 years. The countries signed a ceasefire on 18 June 2000: the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Establishment of UNMEE

On 31 July 2000, the Security Council authorised the creation of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopian and Eritrea (UNMEE), comprising a 100 military observers and a support staff. 2 months later, the Council decided to increase the strength to 4.200 troops.

Monitoring the ceasefire and clearing mines

UNMEE was to monitor the ceasefire as well as the withdrawal of the Ethiopian forces. A demilitarised zone (temporary security zone: TSZ) of 25 kilometres wide was intended to separate the 2 parties. UNMEE had the special task of clearing the countless landmines in the area.