A member of the 7 RIFLES Battlegroup surveys the United Nations Buffer Zone to the West of Nicosia.

Keeping the peace on Aphrodite’s Island

Lieutenant James Wakeley of the 7 RIFLES Battlegroup currently deployed to Cyrpus reflects on his time on the UK’s longest-running UN mission

Lieutenant James Wakeley of the 7 RIFLES.
Lieutenant James Wakeley, 7 RIFLES.
Cyprus Buffer Zone.
Cyprus Buffer Zone.

The presence of peacekeepers in the Buffer Zone is necessary to ensure that ceasefire violations are monitored, protested, and brought to an end.

This ensures that they do not alter the military status quo, cause tit-for-tat retaliation, and consequently destabilise the situation, thereby making the chances for a permanent peace settlement ever more remote.

Buffer Zone, Cyprus.
Buffer Zone, Cyprus.

Working with such an array of international partners has been a fascinating experience. The mission is commanded by an Australian two-star general and everything from daily patrols to planned, larger-scale deliberate operations often sees a host of nationalities work together, all wearing the blue beret.

Our battlegroup, for example, has made a concerted effort to maintain and improve UNFICYP’s infrastructure throughout the sector, restoring decaying observation posts and dilapidated barriers that had ironically become routes for illegal migration.

Deployed Soldiers on Op TOSCA, part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
Deployed Soldiers on Op TOSCA, part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

We are also pleased to have demonstrated the capability of the Army Reserve to tackle an operational deployment all but entirely under its own steam.

After recent years of de-escalation, marked by events like the 2017 Crans-Montana talks that almost succeeded in reunifying the island, keeping the peace on Cyprus has rarely been more important, and the work of Britain’s largest single deployment of peacekeepers rarely more necessary.

Find out where else the UK Armed Forces are deployed here 👇

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