Force Commander's Statement, UNDOF
It is my great honor and privilege to be appointed as the Head of Mission and Force Commander of UNDOF, a mission with such a long and glorious history. It is also a pride for me to serve with you all for the peace in the Golan.
Let me acknowledge all military and civilian personnel of UNDOF, who have served and continue to serve in this mission with the highest standard of professionalism, firm dedication and exceptional courage. I would also like to pay deepest tribute to former Head of Mission and Force commander, late Major General Francis Vib-Sanziri, and all fallen peacekeepers who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. I also take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude to all TCCs for sending such a professional and dedicated women and men to serve under the UN flag. I highly appreciate OGG, UNTSO for their outstanding support to UNDOF since its establishment. Your contribution remains a critical element for the success of UNDOF's operations. I would also like to acknowledge our neighboring mission, UNIFIL, for their continuous support for the movement of UNDOF personnel and logistics through Lebanon.
I must also extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to both the parties for their strong commitment in upholding the ceasefire and Disengagement of Force Agreement.
Due to menace of COVID - 19, we all are in difficult time. It has taken a high toll in our home countries, our host countries, some of our UN missions and different parts of the world in terms of death, sickness and a depressed global economy. The entire world is currently suffering from the mishap of this pandemic. It has also compounded the challenges of the mission. It has restricted our movements, limited interactions with officials and local people of the host countries, delayed rotation of contingent and staff officers, and more than that it has created cleavages between us and our families for regular reunion. However, UNDOF has always been demonstrating univocal unity and solidarity among its personnel, military and civilians, I am confident that together and with our integrated efforts we will stand victorious against this invisible enemy.
As a Head of Mission and Force Commander, committed along with you all for the peace in the Golan, I want to remind three basic tenets for the success of UNDOF. Firstly, we must adhere to the mission's mandate. We are here to implement mandate outlined by the UN Security Council Resolution 350 in 1974. The main purpose of the mission is to establish peace and security in the Golan through maintaining ceasefire agreement and scrupulously observing, and supervising disengagement of forces. Since its establishment, UNDOF has been passing through various upheavals, but UN flag has always flown high in the Golan giving confidence and hope for the peace to the local people, host countries and international community. To endure such confidence and hope, we must continuously adhere to mission's mandate by following the principles of peacekeeping- consent of all parties, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of the mandate. Furthermore, our actions must be legitimate and credible; at the same time, we must demonstrate patience and restrain while implementing the mandate, which you have been performing in an outstanding manner.
Secondly, safety and security of UN personnel, which is in my priority as well. Since past 46 years, security dynamics in UNDOF AOR and the region have changed and remained fluid. Intertwined conflict in the region, presence of other actors in the vicinity of UNDOF AOR and employment of sophisticated technology by all parties and actors have heightened security threats in the mission. Safety and security also denote keeping ourselves cautious of Explosive Remnants of War, IEDs, mines and unexploded ordnances. At the same time, we should not forget incidents of abduction of our fellow peacekeepers in 2013 and 2014. Similarly, we should also not forget heartrending killing of local police personnel in the vicinity of our UN position in 2012. While we are expanding our footprints in the AOR, it is likely to increase security risk. Although the current security situation within the mission is generally calm, the undercurrent situation remains volatile and uncertain. Therefore, we need to be more vigil, alert and ready to prevent or counter any security threats. Let me also stress that the safety and security of every individual peacekeeper is paramount when discharging our duty and responsibility.
Lastly, I reinforce UNDOF’s motto ‘One Mission, One Team, One Goal’, which is mission's foundation as well as our strength. UNDOF has been thriving as an effective and successful peace support mission through joint efforts of all civilian and uniformed personnel, national and international staffs and women and men peacekeepers. It does not matter what background, culture or nationality we belong to, here we are into one UNDOF family. We must stay firm on UNDOF’s motto to excel together in carrying out our responsibilities in support of the mandate.
Finally, I would like to commend each one of you for your utmost contribution dedicated for maintaining everlasting peace in the Golan. With your relentless effort, the mission has been more meaningful and significant. I am confident that your similar loyalty to the UN, commitment to mission's mandates and professionalism on your actions will be continued in the days ahead.
May peace prevail in the Golan.