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A file image of Major General Michael Beary. Alamy
Bomb Blast

Irish diplomat and ex-Defence Forces officer Michael Beary survives explosion in Yemen

Michael Beary is working on disarmament and peacekeeping as part of the UN response to the Yemeni Civil War.

LAST UPDATE | 7 Dec 2022

A SENIOR IRISH diplomat and former Irish Defence Forces officer has survived a bomb blast that struck a United Nations convoy he was travelling on board in Yemen, a number of well-placed sources have confirmed to The Journal.  

Major General Michael Beary is a well-known former member of the Defence Forces now working as a Head of Mission in a UN-backed initiative to bring peace in the war-torn Middle Eastern country. 

Beary is currently in the country working on the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA). 

The incident happened yesterday as one of the vehicles in his convoy struck an explosive device. 

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the incident happened in Yemen’s Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

It is understood that two of the armoured vehicles were damaged in the attack but that no one was injured. 

Reports are that Beary and other UN officials were with members of the Houthi rebel group on their way to supervise the destruction of large quantities of military explosives. 

Yemen has been scene to a bloody civil war since 2014 when the Houthi militia group took control of provinces in the north of the country. 

The fighting forced the Yemeni government out of the capital Sanaa.

More than 24 million people – 80% of the population – are in need of humanitarian aid and protection, meaning it is now the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the United Nations.

Beary was appointed to the UNMHA role in 2021. He is a very well known and respected figure in the Irish Defence Forces and abroad. 

Beary, Michael Major General Michael Beary. United Nations United Nations

His career in the military began as an Infantry officer in 1975. He served from 2016 to 2018 as Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) having previously served there in 1982, 1989 and 1994-95.

He was General Officer commanding 2nd Brigade Irish Defence Forces from 2013 to 2016.

Beary is best known for his overseas missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia and Uganda.

From 2011 to 2013, he commanded the European Union military training mission in Somalia, and in 2004 he was the Liaison Team Leader with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Since his retirement from the Irish Army in 2018, General Beary has lectured at universities in Ireland, authored publications on international peacekeeping, while also having led United Nations Boards of Inquiry in Africa.

The Minster for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney expressed his shock at yesterday’s incident in Yemen.

“Although there were no casualties in the convoy, this incident is a reminder of the dangers that the people of Hudaydah face every day due to landmines and other explosive remnants of war.

“Yemen is one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, driven by seven years of conflict, economic collapse and the breakdown of public institutions and services which has left millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance.

“The root of this humanitarian disaster lies in conflict and Ireland fully support the efforts of the UNMHA and of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, to bring about a peaceful solution to this conflict in Yemen.

“I was disappointed that the truce agreement was not renewed in October and I urge all parties to the conflict to return to negotiations in good faith,” he said. 

A statement has been requested from the United Nations. 

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