U.N. peacekeepers denied permission to cross from Eritrea to Ethiopia

.UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Eritrean officials refused to grant U.N. peacekeepers permission to cross from Eritrea into Ethiopia, prompting them to regroup in the capital instead, U.N. officials said Tuesday.

The developments came despite sharp criticism Friday from the U.N. Security Council, which condemned Eritrea’s “lack of cooperation” with the peacekeepers monitoring the disputed border by obstructing their move into Ethiopia.

Because of Eritrea’s continuing refusal, the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission patrolling the Eritrea-Ethiopia border decided to “regroup” at Asmara, Eritrea, the U.N.’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations said.

About 1,460 U.N. troops were spread among camps at Asmara, Barentu, Senafe and Assab. Now, the 1,000 troops stationed at Barentu, Senafe and Assab are being moved to join the others at Asmara.

“This move will facilitate further relocation out of the country,” the peacekeeping department said in a statement. Asmara has the nation’s only international airport.

In addition, personnel and two flatbed trucks with armored personnel carriers have been stuck in the far western border post of Om Hajer since Sunday. “Eritrean authorities continue to prohibit their departure,” the U.N. peacekeeping department said.

Troops were able to resupply their food through the contractor that had been providing rations, U.N. peacekeeping officials said, but their diesel fuel was still in short supply.