Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (156)

Pat Deering

Question:

156. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a request has been made to send Irish troops to Syria. [30100/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

There are currently two United Nations peacekeeping missions which operate in Syria, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), the latter of which is headquartered in Jerusalem.

At the beginning of June a decision was taken by the Austrian Government to withdraw its peacekeeping contingent from UNDOF. In response to this, the United Nations approached a number of troop contributing countries, including Ireland, to discuss the provision of peacekeepers to replace the Austrian contingent and to bring the number of peacekeepers deployed to UNDOF to the full capacity provided for under its mandate. This request is currently under consideration.

Ireland has responded positively to a request received from the United Nations in April to deploy personnel to the headquarters of UNDOF. Three members of the Permanent Defence Force were recently deployed to the mission and a fourth member will be deployed to UNDOF in the coming weeks.

A further request was received in April seeking the deployment of additional UN Military Observers to UNTSO as part of the Observer Group which comes under the operational command of UNDOF. Twelve members of the Permanent Defence Force are currently serving with UNTSO. The request for additional observers is currently receiving consideration and a decision is expected shortly.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week announced the appointment of Major General Michael Finn, as Chief of Staff of UNTSO.