UN mission in Georgia resumes joint patrols of Kodori Valley after break of 3 years
After a break of three years, the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) has resumed patrols of the Kodori Valley in the north-west of the country, where fighting between the Government and Abkhaz separatists 14 years ago forced nearly 300,000 refugees to flee their homes.
UNOMIG patrolled the lower and upper parts of the valley from 13-16 December with members of the Commonwealth of Independent States Peacekeeping Forces (CIS PKF), after breaking off its patrols in June 2003 when UN military observers were taken hostage. The Mission says the resumption should de-escalate the current tensions.
“The joint patrol enjoyed freedom of movement throughout the Kodori Valley with security guarantees and full cooperation from both sides. UNOMIG thanks them for the comprehensive arrangements that made the successful completion of the patrol possible,” it said.
“UNOMIG appreciates the arrangements made by both the Georgian and Abkhaz sides and the cooperation of the CIS PKF. It will discuss the findings of the joint patrol with the two sides and the CIS PKF,” the Mission added, saying it will also encourage dialogue between the two sides as well as propose further joint patrols.
Among several checks conducted by the patrols, on 14 December UNOMIG said it monitored the de-commissioning and destruction of an array of small arms ammunition, rockets, shells and grenades, which were part of the weaponry reported by the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs to have been seized during operations earlier this year.
UNOMIG, set up in 1993 and expanded following the signing by the parties of the 1994 Agreement on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces to verify compliance, currently has 135 uniformed personnel, including 123 military observers and 12 police, supported by 101 international civilian personnel, 182 local civilian staff and 1 UN Volunteer.