UNIFIL Indonesians peacekeepers help maintain stability along Blue Line

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15 Jun 2020

UNIFIL Indonesians peacekeepers help maintain stability along Blue Line

UNIFIL peacekeepers from Indonesia conduct daily foot and vehicle patrols that are crucial in achieving and maintaining peace and stability in south Lebanon.

Monitoring, observing and reporting the situation on the ground since 2006, UNIFIL Indonesian peacekeepers also conduct mixed-gender patrols. One of them was conducted recently in El Adeisse village, south-eastern Lebanon.

A combination of foot and vehicle patrol operational activities take place every single day and are effective especially in outlying villages and towns, where the unit can travel by vehicle and then conduct foot patrols. It is indeed important for the patrol commander to put in place a reporting system, said Major Handi Wibowo, a UNIFIL Indonesian peacekeeper.   

“As the patrolling and commanding officer responsible for this operational activity, I am in charge of indicating the unit where to go, where to stop or not, whom to meet and talk,” he explained.

He says vehicle patrols allows the patrolling unit with the ability to travel further and cover more ground areas along the Blue Line.

Daily patrols, especially vehicle patrols such as this one, play a vital role in ensuring protection of civilians is prioritized within the Mission, while enhancing at the same time, UNIFIL’s visibility, thereby serving as a confidence-building tool for communities to feel secure, while also deterring potential threats.

“We are responsible to guard, and carry out patrols, both on foot and vehicle, within our area of operations,” he added. “For example, we have to constantly observe who comes across or approaches the Blue Line or any other activities of the Blue Line such as hunters and shepherds which is very common.”

Role of female peacekeepers

Women’s participation and contribution in UNIFIL has been of paramount importance in maintaining stability. Hence, Indonesian female peacekeepers continue to play crucial functions in many tasks with roles as health workers, guards and are also involved in several patrol activities.

For 1st Sargent Imakulata Ngamel, the role she plays as a UNIFIL Indonesian peacekeeper, while patrolling has been extremely important.

“As a female peacekeeper, I have had a more direct access to the community we serve than our male peacekeepers, especially with the women of our host communities, she said. “They feel much safer and comfortable to meet and talk to us and it does make our work much easier and effective.”

The Indonesia Alpha Company, in which both Major Wibowo and 1st Sgt Ngamel serve, conducts around six foot patrols every day along the Blue Line, and two vehicle patrols as many times daily and if they detect any suspicious activity, they report it to their battalion, while continuing to monitor the situation on the ground.

In addition, they also carry out coordinated patrols with the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Patrol commander Maj. Handi also highlighted what it means to proudly serve UNIFIL and patrol in south Lebanon, in comparison to Indonesia.  

“Patrolling in Lebanon has been quite a challenging experience compared to my country. Back home, we usually patrol in the forests, while in here we patrol in very harsh rocky hills areas. At the beginning, we had to adjust ourselves to the local geography but currently, we are able to carry out the patrols in this place very well,” he concluded.

“I feel very proud to be part of UNIFIL peacekeeping and to continue to serve in bringing peace and stability to this region.”

UNIFIL patrols are the most visible components of the Mission’s work in south Lebanon. The peacekeeping mission carries out some 450 activities every single day, holidays included.

With more than 1,300 peacekeepers currently serving with UNIFIL on land and in the sea, Indonesia is the peacekeeping mission’s largest troop contributor.

Just like Indonesian peacekeepers, UNIFIL’s other contingents also conduct – between their core peacekeeping duties – daily patrols in their area of responsibility.

UNIFIL peacekeepers regularly extend humanitarian supports to the host communities, which – together with operational activities – have helped keep calm in the Mission’s area of operation for nearly 14 years.