Carrying out its tasks "smoothly," the United Nations UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) is contributing to calm along the border and should be maintained, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report released today.
In his report to the Security Council, Mr. Annan writes that over the past six months, the situation along the border has generally remained quiet. However, during that period, the Mission reported 267 violations of the demilitarized zone. That figure included 143 air violations -- up from six during the previous reporting period.
Most of the air violations involved aircraft that were heard or observed but too high to be identified. The report states that a Gazelle helicopter was observed on three separate occasions, a Lynx-type helicopter with British colours once, an F-18 jet twice, and a pair of F-14 jets once.
Noting continuing cooperation from both sides, the Secretary-General points out that the Iraqi authorities "feel that UNIKOM should be reporting a higher number of violations and should identify aircraft by type and nationality." He stresses that UNIKOM has explained to the Iraqi authorities that it cannot rely on inference or supposition in reporting air violations, and that the Mission does not have the technical and intelligence capacity required for a positive identification.
"In any case, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America have made it clear that they continue to patrol a 'no-fly-zone' in southern Iraq," Mr. Annan adds.
According to the report, UNIKOM continued to facilitate the humanitarian activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross during the past six months. The Mission also evacuated a number of Iraqi civilians injured by mine explosions. In addition, UNIKOM maintained close and regular liaison with the authorities of both Iraq and Kuwait at various levels, including visits by the Force Commander to Baghdad and Kuwait City.