United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus
United Nations troops manning an observation post looking
across the Mesaoria
Courtesy United Nations
United Nations (UN) troops were present on Cyprus
with the breakdown of the constitutional arrangements in
original three-month UNFICYP mandate was extended,
three-month intervals and, after 1974, at six-month
of the permanent members of the UN Security Council could
continuation, but none has ever done so. The Security
repeatedly affirmed the original mandate and adopted a
resolutions that required the force to perform additional
modified functions. The basic mandate called on UNFICYP to
"in the interest of preserving international peace and
use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting
necessary, to contribute to the maintenance and
restoration of law
and order and a return to normal conditions."
The UNFICYP force level was maintained at about 4,500
to 1968, and 3,500 from 1969 to 1972. Except for a
increase to 4,440 for a period after the 1974 fighting,
gradually declined, reaching about 2,000 as of 1990.
Before 1974 UNFICYP troops were deployed throughout the
between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot defense
Frequently UN soldiers acted as mediators to prevent minor
squabbles from leading to armed conflict. Only rarely was
even the threat of force, necessary in these efforts. In
however, UNFICYP was unable to prevent either the attack
Makarios or the Turkish intervention (operations that, in
exceeded both its mandate and its military preparedness.)
the fighting, though, UN troops took up positions at
International Airport, preventing either side from
strategic location. UNFICYP also played an essential role
exchange of prisoners. After the hostilities, all UN
moved back into the buffer zone between the Turkish and
Cypriot cease-fire lines.
Through a system of 146 observation posts, 54 of them
permanently manned, in addition to mobile and standing
buffer zone was kept under constant surveillance. A patrol
communications track running the entire length of the
was used for reconnaissance, monitoring of agricultural
in the zone, resupply of observation posts, and rapid
any incidents. Regular patrols were generally conducted in
Rovers or similar vehicles. Armored scout cars formed a
and British helicopters were also available if needed. In
sides accepted a UNFICYP proposal to dismantle their
military positions in Nicosia and cease patrolling in
sensitive areas of the city, to reduce the risk of
In April 1989, command of UNFICYP was assumed by Major
Clive Milner of Canada. The head of each national
contingent in the
UN force was directly responsible to the UNFICYP
commander, as was
the chief of staff, who oversaw the headquarters staff and
various support units. Each national contingent operated
as a unit
in prescribed areas in the buffer zone; only at
personnel from different nations work together on a daily
of 1990, Britain provided 742 soldiers, Canada 575,
and Denmark 342. The Irish, Finnish, and Swedish
been reduced to token numbers in 1973, 1977, and 1988,
respectively. The main British, Canadian, Austrian, and
units were organized as infantry battalions. All seven
participating countries supplied military police and
personnel. In addition, Britain furnished a
car squadron and most of the UNFICYP support units.
Sweden supplied the thirty-five-member civilian police
under UNFICYP control.
Each contingent wore the standard uniform of its home
although UNFICYP personnel wore distinctive blue headgear,
sleeve emblems, and a variety of UN-issued accessories.
contingent rotated its troops every six months, although a
number of staff personnel undertook longer tours of duty.
were based on those in each contingent's home country and
by the home countries. The cost of maintaining UNFICYP
about US$26 million in 1989, including operational
transport, pay and allowances above what would have been
if contingents were serving at home, and salaries and
nonmilitary personnel. Funds for these expenses depended
on voluntary contributions by UN member states. These
contributions, however, had never been sufficient.
claims of troop-contributing countries had been met only
1980. The accumulated deficit was nearly US$175 million by
close of 1989.
UNFICYP personnel functioned in several capacities in
to monitoring the cease-fire lines. They provided security
farmers from both Cypriot communities who lived and worked
the buffer zone. They visited Turkish Cypriots in the
Greek Cypriots in the north to ensure their safety and
arranged temporary visits and reunions of relatives.
commanders held meetings with commanders of the National
of the Turkish forces as required, and meetings were held
sides at the chief-of-staff level at regular intervals.
civilian police contingent of UNFICYP functioned as a
between the two communities' police forces and maintained
order in the buffer zone.
Data as of January 1991