MANILA, Philippines–The Department of National Defense is considering the pullout of military personnel serving for the United Nations as peacekeepers in Golan Heights and Liberia due to the worsening conflict situation in the Middle East and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“If they are not given proper equipment and tools for their protection, we should not continue the deployment. We cannot put our soldiers to risk,” Defense Secretary Voltare Gazmin told reporters in Filipino on Friday.
A military assessment revealed that the deployment of peacekeepers to Liberia and Golan Heights has become hazardous.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines deploys military personnel to Liberia, Golan Heights and Haiti as part of its commitment to help the United Nations. There are 115 peacekeepers in Liberia, 332 peacekeepers in Golan Heights, and 157 in Haiti.
Gazmin said that the recommendation to pull out Filipino peacekeepers does not cover the operations in Haiti.
“We will not pull out all the contingents. It may only be done in areas that are risky because of health reasons and conflict,” he said.
The recommendation will be upon the approval of President Benigno Aquino III.
In Liberia, UN peacekeepers have been ordered to restrict their movements to avoid the Ebola virus, which has already killed over 1,000 people in West Africa.
In 2013, 25 members of the 6th Philippine contingent to Golan Heights were seized in two separate incidents by Syrian rebels. All the peacekeepers were freed later by their captors. UN peacekeepers patrol the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria.
Also in the same year, a member of the same contingent was injured in a UN headquarters from mortar rounds fired by Syrian rebels.
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