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UNITED
NATIONS
S

        Security Council
Distr.
GENERAL
S/2002/542
17 May 2002

Original: English

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

For the period from 16 November 2001 to 17 May 2002


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 resolution 1381 (2001) of 27 November 2001.

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 remained generally quiet, except in the Shab’a farms area (Area 6), which saw increased activity originating from the area of operation of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). UNDOF supervised the area of separation by means of fixed positions and patrols to ensure that the military forces of either party were excluded from it. The Force also carried out fortnightly inspections of equipment and force levels in the areas of limitation. Liaison officers from the party concerned accompanied the inspection teams. As in the past, both sides denied inspection teams access to some of their positions and imposed some restrictions on the Force’s freedom of movement.

3. The Force continued to assist the International Committee of the Red Cross 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 26 students and one child. In addition, UNDOF provided protection at two weddings.

4. In the area of operation, especially in the area of separation, mines continued to pose a threat to UNDOF personnel and local inhabitants. Through the Minefield Security Programme, initiated with the cooperation of the Syrian authorities, numerous known and previously unidentified minefields in the area of separation were marked. UNDOF also supported the United Nations Children’s Fund in 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 at 30 April 2002, UNDOF comprised 1,060 troops from Austria (371), Canada (193), Japan (45), Poland (357) and Slovakia (94). 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 55/264 of 14 June 2001, the General Assembly appropriated the amount of $36 million gross, equivalent to $3 million gross per month, for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002. My proposed budget for the period from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003 is currently under consideration by the General Assembly. Should the Council decide to extend the mandate of the Force beyond 31 May 2002, the cost of maintaining the Force will be limited to the amounts approved by the General Assembly.

8. As at 30 April 2002, unpaid assessed contributions to the special account for UNDOF for the period from the inception of the Force until 30 November 2001 amounted to $15.7 million. Total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations, as at the same date, amounted to $1,455.6 million.

IV. Implementation of Security Council resolution 338 (1973)

9. The Security Council, while deciding in its resolution 1381 (2001) to renew the mandate of UNDOF for a further period of six months, until 31 May 2002, also called upon the parties concerned to implement immediately 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 to the General Assembly on the situation in the Middle East (A/56/480), submitted pursuant to Assembly resolutions 55/50 and 55/51 of 1 December 2000.

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 functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties.

11. Nevertheless, the situation in the Middle East is very tense 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 2002. 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 $15.7 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 Bo 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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