How many peacekeepers does UNIFIL have?
In addition there are about 1,000 civilian peacekeepers, both international and national, serving with UNIFIL.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2006 war, a major task mandated to UNIFIL [by UN Security Council resolution 1701] was to extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.
Although not a humanitarian or development agency, UNIFIL has from the early years of its deployment in 1978, had a strong humanitarian disposition in addressing the consequences of wars and occupation in south Lebanon. UNIFIL contingents provide free medical, dental, veterinary and such other assistance to the local population. In addition, UNIFIL contingents have been conducting various training programmes for the people in such fields as computers, languages, bread making, knitting, yoga, taekwondo and so on.
UNIFIL’s engineering and other operational resources and equipment are used to assist the local community to the extent possible. UNIFIL also has a limited budget for small community projects.
UNIFIL’s demining assets are primarily intended for operational use. However, in view of the grave humanitarian consequences of the explosive remnants of war in south Lebanon, UNIFIL has been proactively using its demining resources to help protect the civilian population from the danger of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) and to facilitate their safe access to dwellings and fields to the extent possible.
To that end, UNIFIL Combat Engineers and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams undertake humanitarian operations in support of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre for South Lebanon (MACC-SL) that was established within UNIFIL in July 2000 for clearing the hundreds of thousands of mines and unexploded ordnance left behind by wars and occupation. This work is undertaken in collaboration with the Lebanese Mine Action Centre (LMAC), the Lebanese Armed Forces and other specialized agencies working in the region.
More details in UN Mine Action and UNIFIL.
UNIFIL considers the informed support of the people of south Lebanon as imperative for successful implementation of its mandate. Alongside the humanitarian assistance, interactions with the communities are regularly conducted at every level.
UNIFIL personnel are particularly sensitized to the need for respecting the local culture and customs. All UNIFIL contingents meet with the civilian authorities of the villages upon their arrival.
Conscious of the impact of UNIFIL’s military deployment among civilian population, the mission enforces a strict code of conduct for its soldiers. Any incidents (including road accidents) are investigated by the UN military police.
Every measure is taken to avoid disturbing the normal life of the local population. We try to avoid making noise and the traffic of tanks and armoured vehicles is kept to a minimum, especially at night.
More details in Civil Interaction.
UNIFIL deals with all parties even-handedly and does not ignore any violations. The focus is on ensuring full respect for, and preventing violations of, the relevant provisions of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) irrespective of who the violator is.
Whenever there is an incident across the Blue Line, UNIFIL immediately deploys additional troops to that location to avoid a direct conflict between the two sides and to ensure that the situation is contained. At the same time, it liaises with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces, in order to reverse and bring an end to the situation without any escalation.
UNIFIL acts in a transparent way and keeps UN Headquarters and the Security Council fully and factually informed about all the developments on the ground and any violations of resolution 1701 (2006).
UNIFIL takes all threats seriously because the security and safety of UN personnel is paramount. UNIFIL has comprehensive security and protection measures in place, while maintaining focus on its operations and the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006).
In accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, the Lebanese authorities have the obligation to respect the safety and security of UNIFIL personnel and property. On its part, UNIFIL constantly reviews its threat assessment and takes appropriate security measures as required.
Maintaining a stable and secure environment in the area is first and foremost the responsibility of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). UNIFIL assists and supports LAF, including in their efforts to ensure that the area between the Litani River and the Blue Line is free of illegal weapons and is not used for any hostile activity. In case specific information is available regarding movement of unauthorized weapons or equipment, LAF takes necessary action. However, in situations where LAF is not in a position to do so, UNIFIL does everything necessary to fulfil its mandate in accordance with the Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).
UNIFIL units conduct more than 400 patrols every day, including night patrols, to check against any hostile activity. Permanent checkpoints are established by the LAF to stop and search passing vehicles. At the same time, UNIFIL and LAF conduct several joint or coordinated patrols and set up temporary checkpoints across the area of operations.
More details in Operations.
As a peacekeeping mission, UNIFIL’s priority is to ensure stability in the area and protection of the population. Our primary role is to support the parties in discharging their respective responsibilities towards maintaining ceasefire, but we have the authority and the ability to react forcefully to any hostile act.
Should the situation present any risk of resumption of hostile activities, UNIFIL rules of engagement allow it to respond as required. In this respect, UNIFIL commanders have sufficient authority to act forcefully.
In implementing their mandate, all UNIFIL personnel may exercise the inherent right of self-defence. In addition, the use of force beyond self-defence may be applied within UNIFIL’s capabilities to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities; to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent UNIFIL from discharging its duties under the mandate authorized by the Security Council; to protect UN personnel, facilities, installations and equipment; to ensure the security and freedom of movement of UN personnel and humanitarian workers; and to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.
Following the 2006 war, the Government of Lebanon decided to deploy 15,000 troops of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in South Lebanon, including in UNIFIL’s area of operations. At the same time, pursuant to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) an enhanced UNIFIL force was deployed in the area. As the Israel Defense Forces withdrew from Lebanon, UNIFIL supported the deployment of the LAF across southern Lebanon for the first time in three decades.
Close cooperation between UNIFIL and LAF has since been key to the implementation of the Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and aims at ensuring a safe and secure environment in south Lebanon and the “establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons, other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL”.
More details in Operations.
The Maritime Task Force (MTF) was deployed on the request of the Lebanese Government [in October 2006] to assist the Lebanese Navy in securing the territorial waters and to help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon. This is the first ever maritime deployment in a United Nations peacekeeping mission.
So far 15 countries have contributed naval units to the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force: Bangladesh, Brazil, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
The Maritime Task Force (MTF) naval units operate across the entire stretch of the Lebanese coastline in close cooperation with the Lebanese Navy. MTF reports suspect vessels to Lebanese authorities who then inspect them. On request of the Lebanese Government, the MTF may divert/inspect suspect vessels or prevent naval units from entering Lebanese territorial waters.
In addition, MTF is also working to build sustainable operational capacity within the Lebanese Navy through joint exercises, training, equipment and technical assistance.
No. Resolution 1701 defines UNIFIL’s mandate, but in addition the resolution also lays down the parameters for achieving a permanent ceasefire and long-term solution to the conflict. Such issues are part of a political process and, as such, are beyond the remit of UNIFIL.
UNIFIL’s mandate is an important element in the implementation of resolution 1701. UNIFIL’s deployment, together with the Lebanese Armed Forces, has helped to establish a new strategic environment in southern Lebanon. This creates a window of opportunity for a long-term solution through the political process.
Originally, UNIFIL was created by the Security Council in 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area.
Following the July/August 2006 crisis, the Security Council adopted resolution 1701 enhancing the Force and decided that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese Armed Forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.
More details under Mandate.
UNIFIL is deployed in southern Lebanon. Its area of operations is defined by the Litani River in the north and the Blue Line in the south. UNIFIL’s Headquarters is located in the town of Naqoura.
Additionally, UNIFIL also has a maritime deployment (Maritime Task Force) that stretches along the entire length of the Lebanese coastline.
It is the line of withdrawal that was identified in the year 2000 by the United Nations, in cooperation with Lebanese and Israeli officials, for the purpose of confirming the withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from Lebanese territory in conformity with Security Council resolution 425 (1978). The Blue Line is not the border between Lebanon and Israel.