Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

New UN monitor Michael Lollesgaard will face uphill battle in Yemen

The retired Danish general has over 30 years of military experience

Guinea's President Alpha Conde shakes hand with general Michael Lollesgaard in 2016. AFP
Guinea's President Alpha Conde shakes hand with general Michael Lollesgaard in 2016. AFP

Retired Danish general Michael Lollesgaard is shortly expected to take over the UN mission in Yemen’s Hodeidah.

Diplomatic sources told The National that the general will replace Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch General, who is currently tasked with monitoring a ceasefire in the Red Sea port city, the main entry point for Yemen's commercial and aid imports.

The Hodeidah ceasefire was reached during UN-brokered peace talks between Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels in Sweden last month.

The deal orders the withdrawal of all troops from the port city of Hodeidah and to allow for aid to reach much-needed areas. It was the first significant breakthrough in four years of conflict which has killed tens of thousands of people.

Mr Lollesgaard will face the unenviable task of enforcing the deal on the ground. But he will bring 30 years of national and international military experience to the position.

Born in 1960, Mr Lollesgaard previously led UN peacekeeping operations in Mali and served as a military adviser at the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the UN in New York. He has also deployed to Iraq and Bosnia Herzegovina.

In 2015 and 2016 he headed the military component of the UN’s operation in Mali, leading some 8,700 peacekeepers from 40 countries.

During his time there, Mr Lollesgaard managed to bring Mali’s national and international armed forces together, which contributed to overall stability of the region. For this work he was awarded the French National Order of Merit.

He also received numerous decorations including the Medal of Honour for 25 years of Good Service in the Danish military and the Chief of Defence Medal for International Operations.

In March 2017, he received a third general star and became Denmark's military representative at the Nato headquarters in Brussels.

“I am really happy to work in an international environment and cooperate with skilled colleagues from other countries," he said at the time. "It is a bit like working in the UN, where it is about creating networks. I must also do this here, so that I can best serve the Chief of Defense and the Defense Minister.”

A 2016 survey conducted by the Danish publication OLFI, which covers defence and security politics, showed that Mr Lollesgaard was the preferred next chief of defence for 38 per cent of respondents.

In 2013, Mr Lollesgaard was the Commander of the Danish Division, where he was tasked with training military brigades from multiple countries.

Mr Lollesgaard is a graduate of the Royal Danish Defence College in Copenhagen.

Updated: January 29, 2019 09:02 PM

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