Irish Peacekeepers return to Syrian side of Golan Heights
The Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe T.D., has welcomed the successful completion of the relocation of Irish Defence Force personnel deployed with United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) to Camp Faouar on the Syrian side of the area of operation. The planned move was part of a phased return by the UNDOF mission from Camp Ziouani on the Israeli side (Alpha side) of the area of separation, to Camp Faouar on the Syrian side (Bravo side) of the area of separation.
In March 2018, UNDOF Headquarters returned to Camp Faouar and the Chief of Staff UNDOF, Colonel Michael Dawson, an Irish Officer, together with seven other members of the Defence Forces moved with the headquarters. The main Irish contingent, comprising a Force Reserve Company of some 130 personnel, completed their relocation to Camp Faouar on 3 September 2018.
The relocation of Irish personnel follows ongoing assessment of the security situation in the region and the continued enhancement of the force protection measures and living standards within Camp Faouar.
Minister Kehoe stated "The safety of our Defence Force personnel is my paramount concern and throughout the relocation operations, I have had ongoing discussions with the UN and also received a first-hand briefing from UNDOF Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Francis Vib-Saniri."
The Minister advised that the security situation in UNDOF will continue to be monitored closely and any necessary adjustments to ensure the safety and security of personnel will be made as required.
The Minister went on to say "The continued presence of the UNDOF mission remains an important element in ensuring stability on the Golan Heights and in the Middle East region and is supported and welcomed by Syria and Israel.”
[Notes for the Editors]
Following significant events in August 2014 in the area of separation, the UNDOF mission relocated temporarily from a number of positions. Pending the full return of UNDOF to the area of separation, the mission has continued to maintain a credible presence in the Golan in line with its mandate.
The initial phase of an incremental return of the mission to Camp Faouar on the Syrian of the area of separation was completed in September 2016. Further deployment took place during 2017 and in to 2018 under Phase II of the UN's plan for redeployment to Camp Faouar. This involved the deployment of a Nepalese Mechanised Infantry Company and elements of the Force headquarters staff including 8 Irish Defence Forces staff officers. Phase III involved a full return of military personnel to Camp Faouar on the Syrian side of the area of separation.