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Cyprus: Annan Recommends Cut In Troops

In Reorganization Of Un Mission In Cyprus, Annan Recommends Cut In Troops

With the security situation in Cyprus increasingly benign, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended cutting the troop strength of the United Nations peacekeeping mission there by about one third while extending its mandate until mid-2005 to foster conditions conducive to a comprehensive settlement.

In a report to the Security Council released today, the Secretary-General calls for a reduction of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) military component to 860, down from the current 1,224. He also proposes a more mobile and efficient concept of operations.

At the same time, the Secretary-General recommends that the current deployment of 45 UN civilian police live - who live within the community and perform a wide-range of local services - be increased to the mandated ceiling of 69.

The Secretary-General also calls for a boost in the number of civilian affairs officers working in the mission, noting that their work has grown qualitatively and quantitatively as they intercede on behalf of members of one community or the other to ease specific situations.

"These practical measures will allow UNFICYP to continue to carry out the whole range of its mandated tasks, while taking into account the changed environment and achieving a more efficient utilization of resources," he says. "They will also provide the basis for a further transformation of the mission, as warranted by developments on the ground, after a further review, which should take place before the end of the next mandate period, in mid-2005."

In April, a referendum on a comprehensive settlement plan failed after seventy-six per cent of Greek Cypriots voted against it. (Sixty-five per cent of Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the plan.) Following that watershed event, the Secretary-General said he review the operations of UNFICYP, which was set up in 1964 and expanded a decade later.

In today's report, Mr. Annan recommends that the Council approve UNFICYP's amended concept of operations and force level and extend the mission's mandate for a further six-month period, through 15 June 2005.

"This would allow the restructuring to be implemented in a systematic fashion and provide sufficient time for experience to be gained with the new structure before a further review," he says.

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