Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence


  The UN Iraq/Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) was formally established on 9 April 1991 under UNSCR 689.

  This UNSCR was later embodied within the Gulf war ceasefire resolution UNSCR 687.

  Role was laid down as monitoring of the de-militarised zone, deterring violations of the border and observing hostile acts by either country against the other.

  The UK contribution is 11 officers drawn from all three services. The senior British officer, a colonel, is also Military Assistant to Force Commander UNIKOM (an Irish Major General). Until recently they served 12 month unaccompanied postings, however the normal tour length is now only six months. Following Operation Desert Fox Iraq could "no longer guarantee the safety of UK and US personnel" so we now only patrol the Kuwait side of the border making the posting less interesting for our personnel. The name of the UK's contribution is Op Riley.

  UNIKOM consists of 213 observers drawn from 32 countries. The operation is unique because it is the only UN operation to include personnel from the five permanent members of the Security Council.

  UNIKOM's support element consists of: a Bangladesh battalion of 775 soldiers, a logistics unit from Austria of 34 personnel, an Argentine engineer unit of 50 personnel, and a German medical unit of 15 personnel, as well as 205 civilian support staff (international and local).

  The DMZ stretches 10 kilometres into Iraq and five kilometres into Kuwait.

  HQ UNIKOM is based in an old Iraqi hospital in the Northern sector not far from Umm Qasr.

March 2000

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