United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon have the authority to use force against hostile activity of any kind, whether in self-defence, to ensure their area of operations is not used for hostile activities or to resist attempts by force to prevent them from discharging their duties, according to guidelines published today.
“Should the situation present any risk of resumption of hostile activities, UNIFIL rules of engagement allow UN forces to respond as required,” the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said in a statement, laying out the terms of the Security Council mandate that established it in August to oversee the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah.
“UNIFIL commanders have sufficient authority to act forcefully when confronted with hostile activity of any kind,” the statement added, noting that the force so far had 5,200 out of a maximum of 15,000 permitted under Security Council resolution 1701.
UNIFIL has set up temporary checkpoints at key locations within its area of operations, while permanent checkpoints are being established by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to stop and search passing vehicles. Yesterday it confirmed that Israel had vacated all but one of the positions it had taken during the fighting and that the LAF were taking over.
“In case specific information is available regarding movement of unauthorized weapons or equipment, the LAF will take required action,” the statement said. “However, in situations where the LAF are not in a position to do so, UNIFIL will do everything necessary to fulfil its mandate in accordance with Security Council resolution 1701.”
Among the resolution’s key terms include the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from positions they occupied in South Lebanon, the deployment of Lebanese and UN forces in the area, and the banning of any other armed personnel and weapons there.
Laying out specific guidelines, the statement said all UNIFIL personnel may exercise the inherent right of self-defence; use force to ensure that their area of operations is not used for hostile activities; and resist attempts by force to prevent them from discharging their duties under the Council mandate.
Moreover force may be used to protect UN personnel, 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 in the areas of deployment.
Meanwhile the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is helping Lebanon speed up the recovery of its agriculture sector following the devastating impact of the fighting on both people and the economy.
All agricultural areas were directly or indirectly affected by the war, from fruit trees, vegetables, tobacco and cattle to irrigation systems, farm machinery and forestry. FAO initiatives include a damage and needs assessment mission currently under way and efforts to strengthen veterinary services to prevent and control Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreaks.
FAO will also provide a team of five experts in crop and animal production, fisheries and forestry.