UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Wednesday reiterated its call for immediate and unconditional release of 45 detained peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.
"The members of the Security Council again condemned in the strongest terms the detention of 45 Fijian peacekeepers by a Security Council-designated terrorist organization," said the U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who holds the rotating council presidency for September, in reading out a Council statement.
The Council members "reiterated their call for the peacekeepers ' immediate and unconditional release," Power said, stressing that "there can never be any justification" for attacks on or the detention of UN peacekeepers.
"To this end, they demanded that all groups other than UNDOF ( United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) must abandon all UNDOF positions and the Quneitra crossing point, and return the peacekeepers' vehicles, weapons, and other equipment," she said.
The 15-nation body welcomed news that all Filipino peacekeepers are now safe and insisted that UNDOF's mandate, impartiality, operations, safety, and security must be respected.
The Council members also called upon all parties to cooperate with UNDOF in good faith to enable it to operate freely and to ensure full security of its personnel, and called upon countries with influence to strongly convey to those responsible to immediately release the peacekeepers.
The UN Spokesperson Office said last Thursday that 43 peacekeepers from UNDOF were detained early that morning by an armed group in the vicinity of Al Qunaytirah within the area of separation in the Golan Heights. In addition, another 81 UNDOF peacekeepers were being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah.
The numbers of the detained and besieged peacekeepers have been updated to respectively 45 and 72.
The world organization said Sunday that the Filipino contingent of its peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights escaped from armed elements to an alternate site and are safe.
UNDOF peacekeepers were previously detained by armed elements in March and May of 2013 and were released safely.