was originally established in August 1993 by Security Council
resolution 858 (1993). Its mandate was revised following the signing,
on 14 May 1994, of the Moscow Agreement, which established the
cease-fire and separation of forces. In accordance with this Agreement,
a Security Zone (SZ) of roughly 12 kilometres was created on either
side of the cease-fire line. In this Zone military units are forbidden;
only personal weapons, including RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenade
launchers), may be carried. On either side of the Security Zone is the
broader Restricted Weapons Zone, in which tanks, armoured transport
vehicles, and artillery and mortars equal to or greater than 81
millimetres are prohibited.
The mandate tasks UNOMIG to monitor and verify compliance with the Moscow Agreement, and to observe the operations of a CIS peacekeeping force (PKF), as was stipulated in the Moscow Agreement. The CIS PKF is currently composed of some 1,700 officers and soldiers from one single contributing country, the Russian Federation. The CIS PKF maintains stationary checkpoints along both sides of the cease-fire line. UNOMIG operates independently from the CIS PKF, but keeps in close contact with them.
UNOMIG maintains a political head office in Tbilisi, mission headquarters in Sukhumi and sector headquarters in Zugdidi and Gali, on the Georgian and Abkhaz sides of the cease-fire line respectively. Its primary tools for ensuring compliance with the Moscow Agreement are observation and patrolling, reporting and investigation, and close and continuous contact with both sides at all levels. To facilitate its operational patrolling tasks, UNOMIG has two helicopters and 38 mine-protected vehicles (25 Scouts and 13 Nyalas). UNOMIG patrolling teams not only observe and conduct liaison; they also promote dialogue among CIS PKF, heads of local administration, security personnel and local residents. Each sector usually conducts one heli patrol per week. Each CIS PKF checkpoint
Currently, UNOMIG consists of 120 military observers from 25 countries, approximately 99 international staff and 183 local staff. Its mandate is reviewed every six months by the UN Security Council.
UNOMIG personnel patrol unarmed in the face of armed threats such as mines left over from the war, attacks by insurgents and bandits, and kidnappings. UNOMIG patrols have been ambushed and come under direct fire on several occasions. The most common threat is hostage-taking. Seven hostage-taking incidents have occurred in UNOMIG's history. The last four took place in the Kodori Valley, most recently in June 2003.
First among those who made the ultimate sacrifice, was Lt Col Mohammad Hossain from Bangladesh. He was killed while on patrol in March 1996 when his vehicle hit an anti-tank mine. Since then, 12 valued members of the UNOMIG team have perished while serving. The most recent and fatal event was in October 2001 when a UNOMIG helicopter on a regular patrol in the Kodori Valley was shot down, killing all nine people on board.
Last Updated on 18 October, 2007 15:33:11