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Security Council renews UN Georgia mission for four months, pending revisions

13 February 2009 – The Security Council today unanimously extended the 15-year-old United Nations mission on the ceasefire line between the Government and Abkhaz separatists in Georgia for another four months, pending recommendations on its future following last year’s Russian-Georgian conflict.

Earlier this month Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported that the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) was in a precarious position that could quickly become untenable, noting that on the Abkhaz-controlled side of the ceasefire line, Russian troops had taken over positions previously held by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping forces, on which UNOMIG relied for security.

The Mission has no jurisdiction in nearby South Ossetia, the scene of fighting last August which pitted Georgia against separatists and their Russian allies.

In its resolution extending UNOMIG’s mandate until 15 June, the Council asked Mr. Ban to report “on the situation on the ground and the activities of the United Nations mission, including recommendations on future activities” by 15 May, saying it would take these into account in outlining the elements of a future UN presence in the region.

As of the end of 2008, UNOMIG consisted of 156 uniformed personnel, including 136 military observers and 20 police, supported by 103 international civilian personnel, 195 local civilian staff and 1 UN volunteer, with a mandate to monitor the 1994 ceasefire ending the war in north-west Georgia that drove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

Its area of responsibility in Abkhazia consists of a security zone, where no military presence is permitted and a restricted weapons zone where no heavy weapons can be introduced. In his report Mr. Ban noted that Abkhaz heavy weapons and military personnel had entered the zone of conflict.

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