Citing the constantly evolving circumstances in the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended maintaining the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM), which monitors the demilitarized zone between the two countries, deters violations, and reports on any hostile action.
"UNIKOM is operating in an uncertain environment, due to political and military developments in the region," Mr. Annan writes in a new report to the Security Council. He pledges that the Mission will continue to be vigilant "while making contingency arrangements for any eventuality that could occur in its area of responsibility."
Over the past six months, UNIKOM recorded 278 violations of the demilitarized zone, mostly involving "aircraft that were heard, but were flying at altitudes too high to be observed or identified."
The report also notes that there have been incidents of Iraqi youths throwing stones at UN vehicles, in one case causing injury to a UN Military Observer. There were also occasions when Kuwaiti police refused to allow UN vehicles to pass through gates in the demilitarized zone - a restriction on UNIKOM's freedom of movement. The Mission protested these incidents to Iraq and Kuwait "and urged them to take measure to prevent their recurrence."
On the financial side, the report notes that the Mission's annual budget of nearly $53 million faces a deficit of $16 million in unpaid dues from Member States. Kuwait pays for two-thirds of the cost of UNIKOM.