Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has ended, with the final contingent of Australian Defence Force personnel returning to Australia today.
Defence Minister Robert Hill said the Australian Defence Force has worked in UNMEE headquarters positions on Operation Pomelo since 2001 doing a range of important tasks such as training mission personnel and mapping.
The mission has involved the monitoring of the cessation of hostilities in the region, troop deployments and the temporary security zone between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
"ADF personnel have made a significant and valuable contribution to UNMEE, working to help stabilise the Ethiopian/Eritrean border region following years of conflict," Senator Hill said.
"Our soldiers have work well in Ethiopia and Eritrea during the past four years and have reinforced the ADF’s reputation for professionalism.
"The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has recognised the efforts of ADF personnel over the past four years and thanked Australia for its contribution."
The completion of Australia’s commitment comes as part of an overall reduction in the size of UNMEE.
Since the initial deployment in 2001, 16 ADF officers have deployed to Ethiopia and Eritrea. There have been two ADF officers deployed to the mission at any one time.
ADF personnel continue to be deployed on a number of peace operations. In the Middle East these include Operation Paladin – Australia’s contribution to the UN Truce Supervision Organisation operating in Israel, Syria and Lebanon. Operation Mazurka involves ADF staff based at the headquarters of the Multi-National Force and Observers mission in the Sinai Peninsula. Australia also contributes to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq providing the Military Adviser to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
Outside the Middle East, Australia continues to be a major contributor to the military component in the UN Mission of Support in East Timor and to the police led Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands.