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Fiji Time: 9:48 PM on Monday 21 April

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Theft, abduction worry UN

Torika Tokalau
Monday, June 17, 2013

THE abduction of UN personnel and theft of their weapons, ammunition and vehicles is unacceptable, said UN general-secretary Ban Ki-moon.

In his report to the Security Council, he said it was unacceptable, given the 1974 Disengagement Agreement between Israeli and Syrian forces.

The report highlighted the danger peacekeepers faced on the ground on the Israeli-Syria border.

Four United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) personnel and three Observer Group Golan military observers were abducted, peacekeepers faced direct and indirect firing from the Syrian Arab armed forces or members of the opposition, theft of UN weapons and ammunition, vehicles and other assets; and the looting and destruction of UN facilities at Golan Heights.

"I remain deeply concerned by the incidents involving United Nations personnel on the ground," Mr Ban stated in his report.

Those events have forced Croatia and Austria to withdraw their personnel from UNDOF, and the restricted and limited movement of UNDOF and the Observer Group Golan in the areas of separation.

Mr Ban said the safety and security of UNDOF personnel and Observer Group Golan military observers remained essential for enabling UNDOF to continue to implement its mandate in the difficult situation.

It called on the government of the Syria Arab Republic to facilitate fully the efforts of the mission to continue implementing its mandate safely and securely.

"Despite the limitations posed by the security situation on the Bravo side (Syria), UNDOF continued its efforts to liaise with local authorities and engage with the local population to explain the mission's mandate and activities.

"The mandate of UNDOF remains an important element in ensuring the stability of the region."

He added the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was looking into ways of enhancing the self-defence capabilities of UNDOF, including increasing the troop strength to about 1250 within the parameters of the Protocol to the Disengagement Agreement.