Operation SNOWGOOSE

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. The normal tour of duty there is one year.

What Are They Doing?

The officer deployed usually assists in UNFICYP operations and logistics, such as information management. They also support UNFICYP’s mandate, which is:

  • to prevent recurring conflicts between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot groups; and
  • to help restore and maintain law and order.

In addition to other tasks, UNFICYP troops:

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

History and Context of the Operation

As of June 30, 2018, UNFICYP was made up of 819 military personnel and 68 civilian police officers from 23 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 after being a . It had been a British colony for 82 years.
  • Their new constitution was designed tried to balance the interests of both Greek and Turkish communities on the island.
  • However, a series of constitutional crises followed. Violence broke out between Turkish an Greek groups in December 1963. Outside countries attempted to restore peace, but failed. On March 4, 1964, the U.N Security Council voted to adopt Reolution 186 to send in peacekeeping forces.
  • UNFICYP was formed at Nicosia in April 1964. It began with troops from four countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland and Ireland.

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 had also trained for infantry duties so that they could take part.

Related links

Government of Canada

International organizations

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