As the troop withdrawal by Egypt and Israel from the Suez Canal ceasefire lines continues, so the United Nations Emergency Force (U.
As the troop withdrawal by Egypt and Israel from the Suez Canal ceasefire lines continues, so the United Nations Emergency Force (U.N.E.F.) moves in to act as a buffer between the two sides.
On Thursday (7 February), U.N.E.F.'s Commander, Major General Ensio Siilasvuo, toured U.N.E.F. units and camp sites in the area.
The Finnish Commander told newsmen that he had a strong feeling that the political will for peace exists now in both Egypt and Israel. "The period of the very fragile ceasefire and the very tense military situation is ended", he said.
He said that since the two sides began disengaging on 25 January the operation has proceeded smoothly, without any major problems. Day after day one can see the changing situation in the field, he added.
A U.N. spokesman explained the situation in more detail. He said that the third of four phases of disengagement was going according to plan. Swedish, Finnish and Indonesian U.N. troops were between the opposing armies in a temporary buffer zone west of the Canal. East of the Canal a 497-strong Peruvian contingent and 400 Panamanian U.N. troops were in position at the southern end of the longer-term buffer zone, which will separate Egyptian and Israeli forces when disengagement is complete.
In all there are some 6,000 U.N.E.F. troops in the area. They include units from Austria, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Indonesia, Ireland, Peru, Panama, Poland and Ghana. Nepalese and Nigerian re-inforcements are expected to arrive soon.