On January 24, 2022, Argentine blue helmets, part of the new contingent that will join the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP), departed from Buenos Aires. The contingent, the Argentine Task Force 59, will operate on the Mediterranean island for six months.
A total of 268 Argentine Army, Navy, and Air Force service members, as well as 18 units from the Paraguayan and Chilean armed forces, and a Brazilian military observer, will take part in the mission.
“Our blue helmets are renowned in the world,” Argentine Defense Minister Jorge Taiana said at the farewell ceremony held at the Argentine Joint Training Center for Peacekeeping Operations, in the Campo de Mayo Military Garrison, Buenos Aires province, on January 21. Lieutenant General Juan Martín Paleo, chief of the Argentine Armed Forces Joint Staff, was among the authorities present at the ceremony.
“I have no doubt that they will know how to sustain that outstanding reputation they have achieved, thanks to their commitment, capability, professionalism, and empathy with the civilian populations living in conflict zones,” the minister said.
In his speech, Minister Taiana also highlighted the presence of more than 30 women in the new contingent. “It is a sign of our commitment to equal opportunities and rights for all those who have the calling to defend the country, and with the challenge of fulfilling the commitments made under U.N. Resolution No. 1325,” Taiana said referring to the resolution on women, peace, and security.
Dispute in Cyprus
The U.N. Security Council established UNFICYP on March 27, 1964, to prevent a further territorial dispute between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.
“In the absence of a political settlement to the Cyprus problem, UNFICYP has remained on the island to supervise ceasefire lines, maintain a buffer zone, undertake humanitarian activities, and support the good offices mission of the secretary-general,” the U.N. says on its peacekeeping website.
Argentina has been contributing to the mission with blue helmets since 1993. As of November 2021, UNFICYP has 1,005 personnel, including 745 service members, 151 civilians, 57 police officers, and 52 staff officers.