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UN Interim Force in Lebanon extended through July

Security Council extends UN Interim Force in Lebanon through July

Gravely concerned at the persistence of tension and violence along the withdrawal line between Israel and Lebanon, the Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force operating in the area (UNIFIL) through July.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council cited hostilities initiated by Hizbollah on 21 November and those triggered by the firing of rockets from Lebanon into Israel the following month as evidence that “the situation remains volatile and fragile.” Continuing Israeli violations of Lebanese air space was also highlighted as cause for concern.

While extending UNIFIL for another six months, the Council emphasized the Force’s “interim nature” and looking forward to “the early fulfilment of its mandate.”

The Council also condemned all acts of violence, including the latest serious incidents across the Blue Line initiated from the Lebanese side that have resulted in deaths and injuries on both sides. It urged the parties to put an end to these violations, to refrain from any act of provocation that could further escalate the tension and to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of UN personnel.

The Council urged the Lebanese Government “to do more to assert its authority in the south, to exert control and monopoly over the use of force and to maintain law and order on its entire territory, and to prevent attacks from Lebanon across the Blue Line.”

Secretary-General Kofi Annan was asked to continue to work with the Lebanese Government to reinforce its authority in the South.

UNIFIL has been deployed in the area since 1978, when it was created to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security, and help the Lebanese Government restore its effective authority in the area. Israel completed its withdrawal in 2000. The Force has nearly 2,000 troops from seven different countries.

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