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Security Council extends Georgia mission, voices concern at deadly incidents

15 October 2007 The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) for six months, voicing serious concern over deadly incidents violating the Georgian-Abkhaz ceasefire.

In a resolution passed unanimously, the 15-member body noted with concern the incidents both within and outside the Zone of Conflict, including those on 11 March and 20 September, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon characterized as “the most serious incident involving the Georgian and Abkhaz sides in many years” in his most recent report on the situation in Abkhazia.

In today’s resolution, the Council urged “all parties to consider and address seriously each other’s legitimate security concerns, to refrain from any acts of violence or provocation, including political action or rhetoric, and to comply fully with previous agreements regarding ceasefire and non-use of violence.”

Welcoming the commitment made by both sides during the two-day UN-sponsored meeting in Bonn, Germany, this June, the Council called on the parties to “further increase their bilateral contacts” to reach a peaceful settlement.

The body also called on both sides to conclude documents on not using violence and on the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Some 14 years ago, Georgia and Abkhaz separatists fought a war that forced nearly 300,000 refugees to flee.

The resolution also highlighted the plight and the right of return of all refugees and IDPs to Abkhazia, as well as stressing the “need for a perspective of life in security and dignity in particular for a new generation growing up outside the area.

In Mr. Ban’s report made public earlier this month, he recommended that areas between the Zone of Conflict and the Kodori Valley – the scene of an attack in March – be put under international monitoring, with the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles and artillery radar.

At the same time, he underscored the need to “prevent the weakening of the ceasefire and separation of forces regime.”

UNOMIG – comprising 129 military observers, 14 police officers as of the end of August – was established in 1993 and expanded in 1994 to verify compliance with a cessation of hostilities and separation of forces accord, with patrols of the Kodori valley a specific part of its mandate. But it stopped patrolling the upper part of the valley in 2003 when four mission members were held hostage. Patrols were resumed after a break of three years last December.

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