UN mission in Georgia assists fact-finding team after recent attack on Government post

13 March 2007

A fact-finding team led by the United Nations has begun looking into reports of a weekend attack on a Georgian Government position in the Upper Kodori valley in the north-west of the country.

Members of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) are leading the group including representatives from the Government and Abkhaz sides, as well as with those from the Commonwealth of Independent States peacekeeping force, a UN spokesperson told reporters today.

Michele Montas said the joint team had already gone to the Upper Kodori Valley, adding that the UN was taking the reports of Sunday’s attack with “utmost seriousness.”

After the reports surfaced, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Georgia, Jean Arnault, immediately contacted the Georgian and Abkhaz sides in order to form the joint fact-finding group, she said.

Last month, a UN-backed group of countries involved in the peace process between the Government and Abkhaz separatists called on both sides to immediately tackle security issues in the north-west.

The Group of Friends referred to the zone of conflict and also to the Upper Kodori valley, which has in the past been the scene of clashes.

UNOMIG was 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, with patrols of the Kodori valley a specific part of its mandate.

The Mission currently has some 140 uniformed personnel, including 127 military observers and 12 police, supported by 100 international civilian personnel and 178 local civilian staff.