Military Observer Liaison Officers
UNFICYP currently has about twenty-eight Military Observer Liaison Officers and Sector Civilian And Military Liaison Officers serving across all three sectors. Military Observer Liaison Officers are not just UN Observers, as they are involved at all levels across the Force in daily negotiations and liaison functions with both opposing forces. The Military Observer Liaison Officers form the backbone of the way UNFICYP deals with the opposing forces, be it at regimental level in the sectors or at the highest levels in the Headquarters in the pursuance of conflict resolution, improved communications and confidence building.
The opposing forces continue to accept Military Observer Liaison Officers, although UNFICYP does not yet have unrestricted access to opposing forces regimental Hheadquarters. Sector Civilian And Military Liaison Officers are the part of the Sector Civil Affairs Teams, whose main role is support the Civil Affairs Section to provide humanitarian aid to communities left behind, return the buffer zone as far as possible to normal conditions, and support all bi-communal events.
A detailed, modular training programme has been developed and is run by the Mission Training Cell to prepare Military Observer Liaison Officers and Sector Civilian And Military Liaison Officers in the mediation and negotiation skills their role requires.
The Mobile Force Reserve (MFR)
Formed in 1997, the Mobile Force Reserve is UNFICYP’s primary reserve and provides the Force Commander with a flexible and well-equipped force, able to respond to any situation that may arise in the buffer zone.
The Mobile Force Reserve is staff with 65 peacekeepers from the United Kingdom and is held at high-readiness and trained in a variety of tasks from public order to incident response. It is able to provide support to Sectors and other elements of UNFICYP, including routine tasks such as patrolling. The MFR is equipped with a 4x4 vehicle fleet enabling deployment anywhere in the buffer zone at short notice.
Based in UN Protected Area, at the old Nicosia international airport, the Reserve conducts security patrols and provides a 24/7 ambulance capability.
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UN Flight Unit has three helicopters, with two in operation at all times. The unit is based at UNFICYP headquarters and is staffed with 35 personnel from the Argentinean Air Force as an integral part of the Argentinian contingent. Using Hughes 500 and a Bell 212 helicopters, the unit conducts patrols along the buffer zone and provides logistical support for UNFICYP operations and emergency assistance such as medical evacuations, as required.
In addition, with the latest incorporation of specialized personnel in the fight against fire, not only add to the capacity of aerial operations of the mission, but also can provide a quick response in case of any fire emergency within the United Nations Protected Area or outside, if necessary.
The Argentinean UN Flight peacekeepers regularly demonstrate the skill and flexibility that are derived from working back home in wide-ranging and difficult terrains, such as Antarctica, the Patagonia region and the warmest areas of northern Argentina.
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UN Force Protection Unit
The Force Protection Unit comprises of two distinct elements: the Force Military Police Unit and the UN Protected Area Security Platoon. Commanded by the Force Provost Marshal, the Force is, by design, a multi-national and multi-functional unit, with representation from across the military component and an island-wide remit for all policing matters involving UNFICYP personnel and property.
The Unit’s primary responsibilities include enforcing the Head of Mission’s force protection measures, conducting initial investigations into alleged cases of misconduct and criminal activity by UN personnel, to provide investigative assistance to scenes of crime occurring within the buffer zone when there is UN personnel and property involved, and supporting perimeter security of the UN Protected Area.
The Force Protection Unit’s principal tenet is to deter through proactive policing and security measures in order to preserve the operational effectiveness of the force and safeguard its personnel.
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Engineering support to UNFICYP is provided by the Engineering and Facilities Management under the structure of the Service Delivery Pillar and consists of the Senior Engineering Assistant, the Force Engineer Office, the Force Engineers HQ Platoon, Engineering and Facilities Management Workshop, and Engineering elements from each sector.
External support agencies include the Public Works Department and the Electrical Mechanical Services provided by the Republic of Cyprus. Engineers are an essential part of UNFICYP’s work, with the main role aimed to construct, maintain and repair all facilities including camps, observation posts and patrol bases under the UN responsibility.
Furthermore, they provide maintenance of the patrol tracks and helicopter landing sites across the buffer zone. The unit is staffed with 37 peacekeepers from Slovakia.
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*As of February 2023.