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UN Israel-Syria force adjusting to changing conditions, outgoing commander says

21 January The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights is working to modernize its operations in order to keep pace with changing conditions on the ground, the mission's outgoing commander said today.

Maj. Gen. Franciszek Gagor of Poland told the press in New York that the operation, founded in 1974, is adjusting to evolving conditions. He noted that 30 years ago there were some 5,000 people on the Golan, while today that number has increased tenfold.

"That means that UNDOF has to maintain and modernize its facilities and also has to adjust its way of operation," General Gagor said. In particular, the mission has been forced to become more mobile and more visible, he added, describing a modernization programme now underway which aims to improve infrastructure, integrate all UN elements in the area and adapt its concept of operations to the realities on the ground.

Communications and computer systems are also being upgraded to respond to developments as part of the overall bid to optimize resources. "We improve our efficiency so that we can meet the challenges and requirements in front of us," he explained.

Asked how he would title a book on his experiences in the Golan, Mr. Gagor replied, "Peace is worth fighting for."

Maj. Gen. Bala Nanda Sharma of Nepal has taken over the responsibilities as Force Commander of UNDOF, which maintains the ceasefire between Israel and Syria and monitors the disengagement of their forces while maintaining an 80-kilometre area of separation.

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