Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council today strongly condemned the detention of United Nations peacekeepers serving in the Golan amid increased fighting in the area between Syrian Government forces and armed elements, and demanded their immediate release.
UPDATE: It was announced on 29 August that the number of Fijian troops being detained is 44 and that there are 72 Filipino troops whose movements are still being restricted.
The 43 Fijian peacekeepers from the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) were detained by armed elements of the opposition in the vicinity of Al Qunaytirah, according to the world body.
Another 81 peacekeepers are currently being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban called for the immediate release of the detained peacekeepers, as well as for the immediate lifting of the restrictions on the movement of the Force.
The Security Council made a similar call in a press statement: “The members of the Security Council demanded the unconditional and immediate release of all the detained United Nations peacekeepers and called upon all parties to cooperate with UNDOF in good faith to enable it to operate freely and to ensure full security of its personnel.
“They called on countries with influence to strongly convey to the armed members of the opposition in the UNDOF area of operation to immediately release the peacekeepers.”
UNDOF peacekeepers were previously detained by armed elements in March and May of 2013 and were released safely.
“The United Nations is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers, and to restore full freedom of movement of the Force throughout its area of operation,” UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York today.
Peacekeepers serving with UNDOF monitor the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after their 1973 war. In June, the Security Council extended the mission’s mandate until 31 December 2014.
As of 31 July 2014, there are 1,223 peacekeepers from six countries – Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands, and the Philippines – serving in UNDOF.