United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus

UNFICYP - March 1964 — May 2005

The background to the Cyprus conflict is complicated and centuries old, but in simple terms it stemmed from divisions between the island's Greek and Turkish communities.  In 1960 Cyprus gained its independence from Britain. The new country's first years were beset by problems, mainly Greek Cypriot dissatisfaction with the constitution, which they felt gave the Turkish community disproportionate representation.  When attempts were made to amend the constitution the two communities began to prepare for conflict. Assistance was requested from the UN and this led to the establishment of UNFICYP.  Ireland agreed to participate and in the early stages of the mission was contributing over a thousand troops who were responsible for the entire western portion of the island. The Irish Armoured Group, equipped with the new Panhard AML60s, acted as the Force Mobile Reserve.

Departing for Cyprus

The mission had three main aims: to prevent the recurrence of fighting; to help maintain law and order; and to contribute to the restoration of normal conditions. The deployment of UN troops in potential trouble-spots quickly managed to achieve the mission's first aim.  A coup by the Army Colonels in Greece in 1968 led to a resurgence of support in Cyprus for union with Greece.  In 1973, most of the Irish contingent was transferred to the UN Emergency Force (UNEF II) in Sinai in the wake of the Yom Kippur War.  In July 1974 a coup in Cyprus led to expectations of immediate union with Greece. Before this could happen Turkish forces invaded and secured the north of the island.  After hostilities ended a buffer zone was formed between the two parts of the island and it was the maintenance of this 'Green Line' that would become UNFICYP's main role.

Decades of political deadlock followed and the situation remains unresolved. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan sponsored the most recent attempt at reconciliation but, while it was accepted by the Turkish community, it was rejected by the Greek community.  Ireland's involvement with UNFICYP came to an end in May 2005 after 41 years of service.

Operation Details
Duration: March 1964 — May 2005 
Operation type: UN led Peacekeeping Operations (troops) 
Commitment:  9655 cumulative missions


Visit the Official UNFICYP Site


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