Thursday, 21 June 2012
Department of Justice, Equality and Defence
Question 12: To ask the Minister for Defence the role that the Irish Defence Forces will play in the UN mission in Syria: if their preparation has changed in view of the deteriorating in the situation there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29944/12]
The United Nations Security Council authorized the establishment, for an initial period of 90 days, of a supervision mission, known as the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS). The purpose of the mission is to monitor a cessation of armed violence "in all its forms by all parties" in Syria. The new mission is also tasked with monitoring the full implementation of the six-point plan proposed by Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Mr. Kofi Annan. On 24th April 2012, the Government approved the deployment of up to six members of the Permanent Defence Force as unarmed military observers to UNSMIS, in response to a request from the United Nations. Six Defence Forces personnel were deployed to the mission area on 11 May 2012. The role of the Irish personnel is to observe and report on the security situation, and any transgressions of the ceasefire agreement and the implementation of the six-point plan.
However, over the weekend, General Robert Mood, Head of the mission announced that UNSMIS had suspended its activities owing to an intensification of armed violence across the country in the preceding days. Currently, UN observers are not conducting patrols and are staying in their locations until further notice, and engagement with the parties is being restricted. The suspension of the mission is being reviewed on a daily basis by the UN with operations resuming when the situation is fit for the observers to carry out their activities. As with all missions where Defence Forces personnel are deployed, the security situation in Syria will continue to be monitored closely by the Defence Forces to ensure the security of the Irish personnel deployed to the mission.