Mission Indonesia

Indonesia ready to join UN monitoring mission in Syria


April 22, 2012


Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 04/18/2012 9:03 AM


Indonesia is gearing up to move six of its peacekeepers currently stationed overseas to Syria to help a UN mission monitor the UN-backed cease-fire in strife-torn Middle Eastern nation, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Tuesday.

The peacekeepers would be among 30 unarmed UN observers set to monitor the cease-fire in Syria. The first group, consisting of six observers, reportedly arrived in Syria on Sunday.

“Communications between Indonesia and the UN are still intense. Last night, we talked to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which he asked if Indonesia could shift our peacekeepers to Syria,” Marty said after attending a welcoming ceremony that was held for New Zealand Prime Minister John Key at the State Palace.

“Moving the already-deployed peacekeepers will be more time-effective rather than through regular recruitment processes, given the urgency of the situation in Syria,” Marty said.

He said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has responded positively to Ban’s proposal.

“But we have two conditions. First, to ensure that the cease-fire is truly upheld effectively. Second, to ensure that there is approval from the Syrian government,” Marty said.

“We have told Ban about these concerns and last night he told us that they shared similar concerns.”

The UN Security Council agreed on Saturday to send 30 monitors, but there has been a proposal to enlarge the UN monitoring mission to 250 people.

Unrelenting bloodshed in Syria had complicated preparations by a team of UN observers on Tuesday.

They have been trying to monitor a truce that has brought only short-lived breaks in violence since President Bashar al-Assad pledged to enforce it last week.

Ban said the cease-fire had been “generally observed”, although there was still violence, but the mission of 250 observers would be “not enough considering the current situation and the vastness of the country”, the Associated Press reported.

According to Marty, there would be six Indonesians among the 30 of initial observers.

“That is a form of a high level of trust from the UN to Indonesia,” he said.

In an interview with The Jakarta Post during his visit to Jakarta in March, Ban noted that, as a country with the largest Muslim population, Indonesia has a clear role to play in seeking solutions to the crisis in Syria.

Indonesia is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), G-77 and the Non-Aligned Movement. “Indonesia can fully cooperate with the OIC members,” he said.

The situation in Syria, he said, has reached an unacceptable and intolerable stage where more than 9,000 people have been killed since the uprising began a year ago.

“It is urgent and the international community has to show moral and political responsibility for humanity.”

Indonesia is among 120 countries providing nearly 120,000 peacekeepers worldwide.

Indonesia currently deploys about 1,900 peacekeeping to United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the United Nations Mission in Timor Leste (UNAMET), as well as other UN missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia, Haiti and Sudan.

Of that number, about 1,446 are currently serving in Lebanon, according to data from the Defense Ministry. Indonesia first contributed peacekeepers in 1956.

It has since sent around 25,000 personnel to various conflict zones, including Bosnia, Cambodia and Somalia.