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        Security Council
18 May 2001

Original: English

Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations
Disengagement Observer Force

for the period from 22 November 2000 to 18 May 2001

I. Introduction

1. The present report gives an account of the activities of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) during the last six months pursuant to the mandate contained in Security Council resolution 350 (1974) and extended in subsequent resolutions, most recently in resolution 1328 (2000) of 27 November 2000.

II. Situation in the area and activities of the Force

2. During the period under review, the ceasefire in the Israel-Syria sector was maintained and the area of operation of UNDOF operations remained generally calm, except in the Shab’a farms area (Area 6), as detailed in my reports on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (S/2001/66 and S/2001/423). UNDOF supervised the area of separation by means of fixed positions and patrols to ensure that military forces of both parties were excluded from it. The Force also carried out fortnightly inspection of equipment and force levels in the areas of limitation. Liaison officers from the parties concerned accompanied the inspection teams. As in the past, both sides denied inspection teams access to some of their positions and imposed restrictions on the Force’s freedom of movement. In addition to the restrictions imposed previously, Israel denied UNDOF inspection teams access to Area 6.

3. The Force continued to assist the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with facilities for mail and the passage of persons through the area of separation. Within the means available, medical treatment was provided to the local population on request. During the last six months, UNDOF assisted in the crossing of 17 students and two detainees. In addition, UNDOF provided protection at one wedding.

4. In the area of operations, especially in the area of separation, mines continued to pose a threat to UNDOF personnel and local inhabitants. The Minefield Security Programme, initiated with the cooperation of the Syrian authorities, led to the identification and marking of numerous known as well as previously unidentified minefields in the area of separation. UNDOF also supported the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in its activities to promote mine awareness among the civilian population.

5. The Force Commander and his staff maintained close contact with the military authorities of Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic. Both sides generally cooperated with the Force in the execution of its tasks.

6. As of 30 April 2001, UNDOF comprised 1,038 troops: from Austria (372), Canada (186), Japan (30), Poland (358) and Slovakia (92). In addition, 78 military observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) assisted the Force in carrying out its tasks. A map showing the deployment of the Force is attached to the present report.

III. Financial aspects

7. By its resolution 54/266 of 15 June 2000, the General Assembly appropriated the amount of $37 million gross, equivalent to $3.1 million gross per month, for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001. My proposed budget for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 is currently under consideration by the General Assembly. Should the Council decide to extend the mandate of the Force beyond 31 May 2001, the cost of maintaining the Force will be limited to the amounts approved by the General Assembly.

8. As at 30 April 2001, unpaid assessed contributions to the UNDOF special account for the period from the inception of the Force until 31 May 2001 amounted to $22.8 million. Total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations as at the same date amounted to $2,557.2 million.

IV. Implementation of Security Council resolution 338 (1973)

9. The Security Council, while deciding in its resolution 1328 (2000) to renew the mandate of UNDOF for a further period of six months, until 31 May 2001, also called upon the parties concerned to immediately implement resolution 338 (1973) and requested the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of the period, a report on the developments in the situation and the measures taken to implement that resolution. The search for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East and, in particular, the efforts undertaken at various levels to implement resolution 338 (1973) were dealt with in the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Middle East (A/55/538), submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolutions 54/37 and 54/38 of 1 December 1999.

V. Observations

10. The situation in the Israel-Syria sector has remained generally quiet. UNDOF, which was established in May 1974 to supervise the ceasefire called for by the Security Council and the agreement on disengagement between Syrian and Israeli forces of 31 May 1974, has continued to perform its function effectively, with the cooperation of the parties.

11. Despite the present quiet in the Israel-Syria sector, the situation in the Middle East continues to be potentially dangerous and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached. I hope that determined efforts will be made by all concerned to tackle the problem in all its aspects, with a view to arriving at a just and durable peace settlement, as called for by the Security Council in its resolution 338 (1973).

12. 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 November 2001. The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic has given its assent to the proposed extension. The Government of Israel has also expressed its agreement.

13. In making this recommendation, I must draw attention to the shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to some $22.8 million. This sum represents money owed to the Member States that contribute the troops who make up the Force. I appeal to the Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.

14. In conclusion, I wish to pay tribute to Major General Wranker and to the men and women serving with UNDOF. They have performed with efficiency and devotion to duty the important tasks assigned to them by the Security Council. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Governments contributing troops to UNDOF and to those that provide the UNTSO military observers assigned to the Force.

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