UN Security Council strongly condemns detention of peacekeepers

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UNDOF patrol the Golan Heights area between Camp Faouar and Camp Ziouani. (UN Photo/Inge Lippmann – Photo Date: 07/04/2011)

Members of the UN Security Council have strongly condemned the detention of a group of more than 20 peacekeepers of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, (UNDOF).

President of the Council for this month Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of the Russian Federation says the incident took place within their Area of Limitation, east of the B line earlier today by armed elements of the Syrian opposition.

“ The members of the Security Council demanded the unconditional and immediate release of all; the detained the UN peacekeepers and called on all parties to cooperate with UNDOF in good faith to enable it to operate freely and to ensure full security of its personnel. The members of the Security Council reaffirm their unconditional support for UNDOF.”

Ambassador Churkin was asked who is responsible for the security of UNDOF.

“This is a tricky situation because as you know, it is an area of separation so it is not really controlled by either Syria or Israel and the fact of the matter is that recently, armed groups are obviously associated in some form and shape with the Syrian opposition have been showing up there and that was causing situations when the Syrian armed forces were also engaged. This is something which is not in anyway addressed or envisaged for by the UNDOF mandate so UNDOF is caught up in a predicament where they are clearly threatened and impeded in terms of carrying out their activities but they cannot do much about it.”

Ambassador Churkin says in this particular case, the situation has gotten even worse because the peacekeepers were actually captured and some demands are being made on the Syrian government by those who captured the peacekeepers.

He says there are ongoing talks now between the Secretariat, the United Nations and the captors and it is his hope, as demanded by the UN Security Council, that the UN personnel – are released immediately.

An earlier statement from the UN Spokesperson's office said the UN observers were on a regular supply mission. They were stopped near Observation Post 58, which had sustained damage and was evacuated this past weekend, following heavy combat in close proximity, at Al Jamlah.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 2’06″

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