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UN MiddleEast Observer Force Extention Recommended


Six-Month Extension Recommended For UN Middle East Observer Force

Since the Middle East “is very tense and likely to remain so,” United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today recommended extending the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) between Israel and Syria until the end of next June and called on UN Member States to pay up their arrears for the troops.

‘Under the prevailing circumstances I consider the continued presence of UNDOF in the area to be essential. I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of the Force for a further period of six months, until 30 June 2005,” he said in a brief report.

“The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic has given its assent to the proposed extension. The Government of Israel has also expressed its agreement.”

He added, however, that troop-contributing Governments were owed $19.9 million and called on all Member States to pay their assessments in full.

UNDOF was established in May 1974 to monitor the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire in the Golan Heights. Last month it had 1,039 troops from Austria, Canada, Japan, Nepal, Poland and Slovakia and was assisted by 77 military observers from the UN Troop Supervision Organization (UNTSO).

In the past six quiet months, UNDOF helped the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with passage through the area of separation by 903 students and 456 pilgrims. It also helped the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF) to promote landmine awareness among the civilians living in the area.

The Security Council is scheduled to start considering action on UNDOF on Friday.

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