A United Nations naval force is now in place to support the Lebanese Navy in monitoring its territorial waters, securing the coastline and preventing arms smuggling as part of the Security Council resolution that ended this summer’s hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah.
“The Maritime Task Force has an important job to do in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, ensuring, through supporting the Lebanese Navy, that this country’s territorial waters are not utilized for any illegal or hostile activities,” UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Commander, Maj.-General Alain Pellegrini, said at the official transfer yesterday in Beirut Port.
At the ceremony, the commander of the Interim Maritime Task Force that had temporarily patrolled the coastline, Italian Rear Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi, handed over command to German Rear Admiral Andreas Krause, who leads the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force.
The Force, comprising 19 vessels from Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Norway, Sweden and Turkey, will have a crew complement of some 1,500.
Resolution 1701 mandates strengthening UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops. At present it has some 5,000 troops on the ground, but the second phase of deployment may be delayed by several weeks due to problems of logistics and capacity, the UN Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC) said in its latest update.