UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – The UN Security Council reaffirmed support Friday for its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon and called on “all parties” in the country to allow the forces to move freely.
A statement approved unanimously by the 15-member Security Council came in response to incidents in recent weeks in which the blue-helmeted forces were targeted and attacked in Lebanon.
The statement said council members “strongly deplore the recent incidents involving UNIFIL peacekeepers which took place in southern Lebanon on June 29, July 3 and July 4.”
The Security Council members said they “call on all parties to ensure that the freedom of movement of UNIFIL remains respected in conformity with its mandate and its rules of engagement.”
“The members of the Security Council also call on all parties to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel,” the statement added.
In one of the incidents, villagers disarmed a French patrol of UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon and attacked them with sticks, rocks and eggs, in the latest in a string of such incidents.
France called for a specific meeting on the matter at the United Nations to reaffirm the freedom of movement of the peacekeepers.
The Security Council statement reaffirmed Resolution 1701, which ended the Hezbollah-Israel war in 2006 and expanded the mandate of the mission known as UNIFIL, which was originally formed in 1978 after the outbreak of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud said the action was a “clear statement” that showed that “we cannot accept the obstacles to the freedom of movement of UNIFIL.”
Araud said that some had the impression that the incidents “were not isolated” and that “we wanted to emphasize… the seriousness of these incidents.”