Operation SNOWGOOSE

From: National Defence

Operation SNOWGOOSE is Canada’s involvement in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). It is one of Canada’s longest-running missions in another country. It dates from the beginning of UNFICYP in 1964.

How many people are deployed

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) now sends one officer to support the operations staff at UNFICYP headquarters in Nicosia on a yearly rotational basis.

What are they doing

The officer deployed leads the Information Operations cell, which collects information relevant to operations and provides an integrated analysis for the Force Commander. Through their work, they support UNFICYP’s mandate, which is to use its best efforts to:

  • prevent a recurrence of fighting between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot groups
  • contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order
  • contribute to a return to normal conditions.

In addition to other tasks, UNFICYP personnel:

  • maintain a safe zone between the ceasefire lines of the opposing forces
  • investigate ceasefire violations
  • carry out humanitarian activities
  • support negotiations between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot groups

History and context of the operation

As of 2020, UNFICYP comprises approximately 860 uniformed personnel (police, staff officers and military troops) and approximately 160 civilian personnel from 25 countries.

Canadian Armed Forces' relationship with UNFICYP

Canada’s troops were committed by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson’s government committed Canadian troops on March 12, 1964. The first Canadian troops arrived in Cyprus on March 15, 1964. Canada maintained a battalion-sized group of peace-support troops until June 15.

The operation name “Snowgoose” dates from July 1974.

Timeline of key events

  • Cyprus became an independent state in 1960. It had been a British colony for 82 years
  • However, a series of constitutional crises followed. Violence broke out between Turkish and Greek groups in December 1963. Foreign countries attempted to restore peace, but failed. On March 4, 1964, the U.N Security Council voted to adopt Resolution 186 to send in peacekeeping forces
  • UNFICYP was formed at Nicosia in March 1964 with the arrival of its first contingent of troops, from Canada. Contingents from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Ireland, Finland, Denmark and Austria followed in the next months

Past Deployments

From 1964 to 1993, 59 groups totaling about 25 000 CAF members completed six-month tours on the island. By 1993, every Regular Force infantry battalion had gone to Cyprus at least once. Regular Force artillery and armoured regiments were also trained for infantry duties to augment the infantry battalions.

Related links

Government of Canada

International organizations

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