UNITED NATIONS: The UN has reduced by 11.39 per cent the budget of its military observer group tasked with monitoring the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan for the year 2018-2019.
The General Assembly on Sunday allocated USD 19,754,400 for its UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) for the next two years, a cut of USD 2,539,200 from its previous allocation of USD 22,293,600 for the year 2016- 2017.
Overall the UN biennium budget has been reduced by five per cent or around USD 286 million in actual terms.
This is mainly because of the pressure from its largest donor the US, which is seeking a reduction in its aid to the world body.
The UNMOGIP, which is financed by the United Nations’ (UN) regular budget, is currently headed by Major General Per Gustaf Lodin of Sweden.
Informed UN sources familiar with the budgetary process told PTI that the reduction in the UNMOGIP was in the area of travel.
The group’s field trips have been reduced by 500 to 4,500, while its allocation for contractual services and general operating budget has also been cut, they said.
The UNMOGIP conducted 4,864 field trips in 2012-2013 against the target of 5,000. In the 2014-2015 period, it carried out 4,468 field trips against the target of 5,000.
Figures for actual field trips for the period of 2016- 2017 were not available. The target was 5,000.
The current mission of the UNMOGIP, as directed by the Security Council, observes developments pertaining to the strict observance of the ceasefire of December 17, 1971 and report thereon to the UN Secretary General.
The UNMOGIP is headquartered in Islamabad from November 1 to April 30 and a rear headquarters in Srinagar from May 1 to October 31.
Its mission is carried out by military observers deployed in field stations and mobile observation teams. A liaison office is located in New Delhi.
Its field stations in India are in Jammu, Baramulla, Poonch and Rajouri districts, while on the Pakistani side the field stations are in Domel, Kotli, Bhimber, Rawalakot, Sialkot, Skardu and Gilgit.
According to the information available on its website, the group has 114 personnel which includes 70 civilians and 44 experts.
The first group of the UNMOGIP arrived in the region on January 24, 1949 to supervise the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
These observers, under the command of the Military Adviser appointed by the UN Secretary-General, formed the nucleus of the UNMOGIP.
In February this year, a General Assembly report pertaining to budget said that the mission will continue to maintain military observers at all its operational field stations on both sides of the line of control.
The report said the mission will continue to conduct efficient patrols and effective inspections and investigations of the alleged violations of the ceasefire and perform field tasks in the vicinity of the Line of Control from the field stations to the extent permitted by the host countries.
Till May 2014, the UNMOGIP liaison office in New Delhi used to receive free rental accommodation from the Indian Army.
In May 2014, the Indian Army asked UNMOGIP to vacate its premises. Since then, the liaison office relocated to leased premises in September 2014 and also pays for the cost of the facilities provided by the Indian Army.
In 2016-2017, the UN General Assembly had allocated USD 2.8 million towards refurbishment of the new premises, and reimbursement for the monetised value of the facilities provided by the Indian Army, and the rent of the premises of the liaison office in New Delhi.
According to the Security Council mandate given in resolution 307 of 1971, UNMOGIP observes and reports on ceasefire violations along and across the Line of Control and the working boundary between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as reports developments that could lead to ceasefire violations.
India has maintained that the UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Simla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the Line of Control (LoC).