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Ban Ki-moon recommends extension of UN force in Golan Heights

Ban Ki-moon recommends extension of UN force in Golan Heights

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says another six-month extension of the United Nations force observing the ceasefire between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights is essential given continuing tension in the region.

The situation in the Middle East is likely to remain that way “unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached,” Mr. Ban states in his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has for the past 33 years supervised the disengagement accord between Syrian and Israeli forces after the 1973 war.

While acknowledging that the situation in the Israel-Syria sector has remained “generally quiet,” he states that the continued presence of the Force “essential.”

The Secretary-General recommends that the Council extend the through the end of this year the mandate of the Force, currently made up of just over 1,000 troops from Austria, Canada, India, Japan, Poland and Slovakia.

At the same time, the report draws attention to a funding shortfall facing the Force, with unpaid dues currently amounting to some $1.1 million owed to the Member States that contribute troops. He appeals to all countries to pay their assessments “promptly and in full” and to clear all remaining arrears.

In UNDOF’s area of operation, especially in the area of separation, minefields continue to pose a threat to the Force’s personnel and local inhabitants, the report notes, cautioning that this threat has increased, owing to the age of the mines and their deteriorating explosives. In addition to carrying out mine clearance, the Force supported the activities of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to promote mine awareness among the civilian population.