UN chief demands immediate release of seized Fijian peacekeepers

A UNDOF base in the Golan. Photo: UNDOF

A UNDOF base in the Golan. Photo: UNDOF

Golan, 1 September 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday again called for the release of 44 Fijian peacekeepers seized in the Golan.

The peacekeepers are serving with the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), monitoring a ceasefire established in 1974 between Israel and Syria.

“I again demand the immediate and unconditional release of these brave blue helmets who deployed to the region to bring stability for the sake of the people,” Mr. Ban told journalists in Apia, Samoa, where he is attending the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

In a phone call yesterday, Mr. Ban spoke to Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarana.

“I explained the current status of negotiations with armed groups between our Force Commanders and United Nations entities and armed groups,” Mr. Ban said, and “assured him the United Nations would spare no efforts to have early release of Fijian peacekeepers.”

“We are working around the clock for their release,” he added.

Armed groups detained the peacekeepers Thursday. No additional information on their status or location has been made available.

Meanwhile, 72 Filipino peacekeepers had been surrounded by armed elements in two different locations in the Golan. That group has since been safely relocated, the UN had announced.