Global perspective Human stories

Annan calls for new 6-month extension of force monitoring Israeli-Syrian ceasefire

Annan calls for new 6-month extension of force monitoring Israeli-Syrian ceasefire

Warning that the situation in the Middle East is likely to remain tense “unless and until a comprehensive settlement” can be reached, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for another six-month extension of the United Nations force that for the past 32 years has monitored the ceasefire between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights.

“Under the prevailing circumstances, I consider the continued presence of UNDOF in the area to be essential,” Mr. Annan says in his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Disengagement Observer Force, which was established in May 1974 to supervise the disengagement accord between Syrian and Israeli forces after the 1973 war.

His comments echo his previous recent reports. The proposed extension of UNDOF, which consists of 1,025 troops from Austria, Canada, India, Japan, Nepal, Poland and Slovakia, would run through 30 June.

Mr. Annan underscores a funding shortfall for the Force, with unpaid assessments currently amounting to $30.2 million owed to the Member States that contribute troops.

“I appeal to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears,” he writes.

He notes that during the past six months the ceasefire was maintained and the area remained generally quiet except in the Shab’a Farms, where rockets originating from Lebanon during Israel’s war with Hizbollah between 12 July and 14 August hit close to UNDOF installations, destroying an unmanned UN watchtower.

Mines also continued to pose a threat to UNDOF personnel and local inhabitants. Owing to the age of the mines and their deteriorating explosives, this threat has increased and UNDOF continued to carry out operational mine clearance.