Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri visits the flagship of UNIFIL Maritime Task Force at Beirut Port
Today, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri paid a visit to UNIFIL Maritime Task Force at the Beirut Port. The Prime Minister was welcomed by UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col and MTF Commander Rear Admiral Eduardo Augusto Wieland onboard the UNIFIL Brazilian flagship “UNIAO”. Present at the visit was LAF Navy Commander in Chief, Rear Admiral Hosni Daher, the Secretary General of the Higher Defense Council Brigadier General Mahmoud Al Asmar and Prime Minister’s Advisors, General Mohamed Janbay and General Maroun Hitti as well as other LAF and UNIFIL officers.
During the visit, the UNIFIL Head of Mission briefed PM Hariri on the work of the UN Peacekeeping’s first and only major naval operation at sea. H.E. Hariri was also briefed by Rear Admiral Wieland, Deputy Head of Mission Imran Riza and other UNIFIL officers on a series of trainings and joint exercises conducted with the Lebanese Navy in close coordination with UNIFIL.
Prime Minister Hariri thanked UNIFIL and its Maritime Task Force for the work done in maintaining stability along Lebanese territorial waters and for the job they are doing in assisting the LAF Navy with trainings and joint exercised aimed at enhancing their capacities and capabilities: ”My presence here today is to reaffirm the Lebanese Government’s commitment to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and 2433. This resolution calls on Lebanon to develop a plan to increase the Lebanese Naval capabilities. I am fully dedicated to further developing the capacities of the Lebanese Navy.” And he added “Last week I was briefed on the final stages of this plan. I will do my utmost best to have it endorsed by the Council of Ministers before the 31st of August, the date of the renewal of the UNIFIL mandate.”
At the end of the visit Prime Minister Hariri stressed on the calm prevailing in the country: “I also thank everyone for the work they are doing, which makes Lebanon safer. The calm we have been enjoying since 2006 is mainly due to what you are doing as maritime forces. I assure you that the Lebanese people is very grateful for this. We are very pleased to work with you and hope that our maritime forces will one day be able, thanks to your training, to carry out this task and protect our land and waters.”
UNIFIL Head of Mission Del Col emphasized the importance of the role of the MTF in coordinating activities with the LAF-Navy ”UNIFIL’s support to the LAF-Navy is of paramount importance in monitoring territorial waters, securing Lebanese coastline and preventing the unauthorized entry of arms or related materials by sea into Lebanon as well as ensuring stability in the country”
While adopting resolution 2433 in August last year, UN Security Council called for the Government of Lebanon to develop a plan to increase its naval capabilities, with the goal of ultimately decreasing the UNIFIL MTF transitioning to LAF-Navy.
Established in October 2006 at the request of the Government of Lebanon, UNIFIL MTF supports the LAF Navy in preventing the unauthorized entry of arms or related materiel by sea into Lebanon. Its mission also focuses on assisting Lebanon raise its own naval forces to control and protect Lebanon's seaways and territorial waters. UNIFIL MTF currently has about 750 personnel and six ships: one each from Bangladesh, Brazil, Germany, Greece, Indonesia and Turkey. The Brazilian Navy has been in the command of the MTF since 2011. Since 2006, UNIFIL’s MTF has hailed more than 96,000 ships, of which about 14,000 were referred to the LAF Navy for inspection.