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Cyprus: Peacekeeping Operations

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what systems are used to (a) monitor and (b) obtain information on turtle populations on the sovereign bases in Cyprus. (245415)

There are currently four voluntary ‘Turtlewatch’ groups operating on the SBAs. Three groups in the Western Sovereign Base Area (WSBA) and one group in the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA).

Of the three WSBA groups, Episkopi patrols and monitors beaches focused around the Episkopi station area, which includes non-military and military controlled land. This group is predominantly led by British ex-pats and consists of 80-100 members with some serving military personnel assisting in their own time. In addition some beaches in the Episkopi area are monitored by Pissouri turtlewatch, and both Pissouri and Episkopi turtlewatch work together in this respect.

Akrotiri turtlewatch monitors beaches around the Akrotiri peninsular, which includes military and non-military controlled land. This group has a larger proportion of military personnel contributing and the key co-ordinators are serving. Akrotiri turtlewatch is also working with Glasgow university and up to 12 students assist with monitoring every year.

In the ESBA there is one turtlewatch group at Dhekelia that monitors the local station beaches. This is co-ordinated by serving military/civilian personnel in their spare time.

Patrols are undertaken by these groups on an almost daily basis on known or potential turtle nesting grounds between May and September to identify turtle tracks and nest sites. Once a nest is located it is protected from stray dogs and foxes by placing a metal cage and tape around the general area of the nest. Around hatching time the nest is observed from a distance and after three days following the first hatch, the nest is excavated to ensure all the hatchlings can escape to the sea.

The active members of Turtlewatch are licensed by the SBAA's Environment Department to undertake these activities following appropriate training.

Since 2007 all data relating to turtle nests, hatches and deaths etc. are collated by the Sovereign Base Area Administration (SBAA Environment Department) for use in developing SBA environmental policy and assessing the impact of foreshore activities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many turtles hatched at RAF Akrotiri in each of the last three years. (245416)

The number of turtles hatched on the beaches at RAF Akrotiri in each of the last three years is as follows:








To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces take part in his Department’s Turtlewatch scheme in Cyprus. (245417)

The number of military personnel taking part in the Turtlewatch activities is difficult to determine accurately, given the voluntary nature of the work. But, British Forces Cyprus work closely with volunteer organisations to monitor and safeguard protected species and habitats around the Sovereign Base Areas.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Territorial Army members and (b) reservists have participated in the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. (245051)

As at 18 December 2008 there were 246 members of the Territorial Army deployed as a formed TA unit on Operation TOSCA, the UK contribution to UNFICYP. In the nine years previous to the current deployment, TA personnel were only sent as individual augmentees. Approximately 10 TA augmentees per year were deployed during this period.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the Government has contributed to the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus in (a) monetary support, (b) troops and (c) senior officers in (i) 2008-09 and (ii) each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (245052)

Our assessed contributions to the UN in respect of the costs of the UNFICYP mission for 2008-09 are 2,740,207 USD (until payment is made and exchange rates are known, it is not possible to provide a sterling figure). The following table shows our assessed contributions over the previous three years:

Assessed contribution (£)







We also contribute to the mission through the provision of personnel. Since March 2005 our contribution has been steady at approximately 274; this comprises 245 Other Ranks, 16 Junior Officers (Captain and below) and 13 Senior Officers (Major and above). Our contribution includes the Chief of Staff to the mission.

The national costs in providing this contingent are defrayed by payments from the UN, which currently average around $1,000 per soldier per month.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate (a) he and (b) the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus have made of the (i) number and (ii) strength of Turkish forces in north Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. (245053)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by the then Minister for Europe (Mr. Jim Murphy) on 29 November 2007, Official Report, column 692W.

I cannot speak on behalf of UNFICYP.