501 Fijian troops join UNDOF on the Israel-Syria border

UN peacekeepers of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) patrol the Golan Heights area between Camp Faouar and Camp Ziouani. The peacekeeping mission was established by Security Council resolution 350 (1974) of 31 May 1974 to: maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria; supervise the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces; and supervise the areas of separation and limitation, as provided in the May 1974 Agreement on Disengagement. 07 April 2011 Golan Heights, SyriaAccording to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, as of 29 July, UNDOF has 1,166 troops comprised of 501 from Fiji, 193 from India, 339 from Philippines, 130 from Nepal, and three staff officers from Ireland. As for the situation in the Golan, it remains volatile; there are clashes between the Syrian Armed Forces and armed members of the opposition that continue in the UNDOF area of operations and including in the area of separation. UNDOF will continue to carry out its mandate, which is to monitor the ceasefire between Israel and Syria.

A considerable escalation of the conflict in Syria in 2013 has affected the UNDOF area of operations significantly. The military operations carried out by the Syrian Arab armed forces and the armed members of the opposition in the area of separation have adversely affected the efforts of the Force to effectively carry out the mandated tasks. They have also significantly raised the potential of escalating tensions between Israel and Syria and jeopardizing the decades-long ceasefire between the two countries and the stability of the whole region.

There has also been a rise in the nature, number and gravity of incidents involving United Nations personnel on the ground, including abductions of UNDOF and UNTSO observers, the direct and indirect firing at them by the Syrian Arab armed forces or armed members of the opposition, the theft of UN weapons and ammunition, vehicles and other assets, and the looting and destruction of facilities.

The growing safety risks led to the withdrawal in March of the Croatian contingent. On 6 June, the Government of Austria – a longstanding major troop-contributing country to UNDOF – also announced its decision to withdraw, essentially leaving India and the Philippines as the only remaining troop-contributors.

UNDOF Command Structure

Reporting to the Security Council on 12 June, the Secretary-General provided a detailed account of the deteriorating situation on the ground and ensuing implications for UNDOF. He stated in the report that the continued credible presence of the Force remained an important element in ensuring stability on the Golan and in the region and that it was essential that UNDOF continued to have at its disposal all the means and resources it needs to carry out its mandate safely and securely. The Secretary-General appealed to Member States to contribute troops to UNDOF to support United Nations efforts to enhance the capabilities of the Force.

At the same time, the Secretary-General recommended that given the evolving security situation in the UNDOF area of operation, the Security Council should consider adjustments to the posture and operations of the mission, as well as additional mitigation measures. These include enhancing the self-defence capabilities of UNDOF, including increasing the Force strength to about 1,250 and improving its self-defence equipment. He said that the support of the parties and the Security Council was critical as UNDOF continued to make these critical adjustments.

By its resolution 2108 of 27 June 2013, the Security Council stressed the obligation of both Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic to scrupulously observe the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement and abide by its terms. Underscoring that there should be no military forces in the area of separation, it also called on all parties to the Syrian domestic conflict to cease military actions in the UNDOF area of operation.

By other terms of the resolution, the Council stressed the need to enhance the safety and security of UNDOF personnel, and endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendations to consider further adjustments to the posture and operations of the Force, as well as to implement additional mitigation measures to enhance its self-defence capabilities, including maximizing its strength and improving its self-defence equipment. The Council requested the Secretary-General to ensure that UNDOF has the required capacity and resources to fulfil the mandate, as well as to enhance the Force’s ability to do so in a safe and secure way.

UNDOF Mission website