11 July 2002

Ethiopia: UN Launches "Outreach" Centres

The head of the United Nations peacekeepers in Ethiopia and Eritrea on Wednesday launched two centres to provide the people of both countries with details about the peace process.

Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, who is the Secretary-General's Special Representative, said he hoped the outreach centres in Addis Ababa and Asmara would provide a "deeper understanding" about the peace process.

Speaking to delegates at the launch in Addis Ababa, he also said he hoped the centres would stand as a "lasting tribute" to peace in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bloody two-year border war, which claimed tens of thousands of lives before a final peace agreement was signed in December 2000.

Legwaila, who heads the 4,200 strong UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), said the centres would enable both countries to have access to vital information on the peace process.

"It is not enough to talk peace, you must live it," he said. "To live peace, mutual understanding must be restored, must be fostered and nurtured. That is why the outreach centres that UNMEE is establishing are important elements in the peace process."

Ethiopia's State Minister for Information Netsannet Asfaw and Brigadier General Yohannes Gebremeskel, who heads Ethiopia's Peacekeeping Coordination Bureau, attended the launch of the Addis centre.

Legwaila said visitors to the centre could get documents on the peace process, as well as access the Internet and listen to radio broadcasts about how the process is developing.

Just hours earlier, Legwaila had launched the outreach centre in Asmara before flying into Ethiopia to open the second centre.

Two outposts will also be opened in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, which borders Eritrea, and Adigrat, which is also in Tigray.

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