Thursday, March 07, 2013

21 Filipino peacekeepers held hostage by Syrian rebel forces

PEACE MONITORS. When I was deployed as a UN military observer in 2008, I experienced the countless travels to remote areas controlled either by rebel or government forces. One of the Filipino officers who was assigned in an adjacent area was ambushed by a drunk rebel soldier. He escaped unhurt but his buddy sustained a head wound.

Twenty one peacekeepers belonging to the Philippine Battalion, United Nations Disengagement  Observer Force were held hostage by Syrian rebels early afternoon on Wednesday (March 6, 2013).
The soldiers were conducting supply operations on board UN marked vehicles when they were blocked by heavily armed gunmen somewhere in the vicinity of Al-Jamlah at around 12:30pm.

The senior officials of UNDOF had negotiated  for the release of the peacekeepers.

The rebels had demanded  the removal of  five battle tanks and infantry soldiers belonging to the Syrian Arab Armed Forces from the said village.

The soldiers who were held hostage narrated by phone that they were being treated humanely by their captors.
Previous attack
Also in January this year, a UN marked vehicle carrying a Filipino officer of the UNDOF came under fire amidst the fighting between the opposing forces. No one was hurt in the said incident.
Filipino peacekeepers are widely known in the United Nations for their highest standards of professionalism, integrity and competence.
As one of the founding members of the United Nations, the Philippines has continued its deployment of peacekeepers in some troubled regions since the 1950s. 
The past and present UN deployments include Kashmir region, Sudan, South Sudan, Korea, Congo, Afghanistan, Burundi, Cambodia, Cote d’ Ivoire, Darfur, Georgia, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia,  Kosovo, Nepal, and Timor Leste. 

There are also a separate deployment of unarmed Filipino UN military observers who help monitor the implementation of the peace agreement in these areas.

A UN patrol is composed of UN military observers, a language assistant and representative from both the government and rebel forces. This photo was taken during our visit to a remote town in Unity State in South Sudan. There was a time when I and 5 others were held hostage by a young officer manning a checkpoint near the border with Abyei. We did not have the two representatives from the opposing forces during that time. We were saved by the Arab-speaking Jordanian officer who was also a member of our patrol.

1 comment:

  1. Sir,

    Ano po ang feeling na nakapag serve sa UN and other nationalities?