Belgium takes helm of coast flotilla for UN force in Lebanon

2 March 2009
UNIFIL carrying out maritime joint operation exercise off Naqoura coast

Belgium today took command of United Nations peacekeeping’s first-ever maritime task force (MTF), which was deployed off the coast of Lebanon in 2006 to curtail arms smuggling following that year’s war between Israel and Hizbollah.

At the handover ceremony, held on the flagship FS De Grass in the Port of Beirut, Major-General Claudio Graziano, Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), noted the progressive enhancement of operational cooperation between the MTF and the Lebanese Navy.

“In the process, UNIFIL’s MTF and the Lebanese Navy have developed a constructive, professional relationship which is vital to the successful implementation of our mandate,” he added.

Since the start of its operations, the MTF, which for the past year was headed by the European Maritime Force (EUROMARFOR), has hailed more than 22,000 ships and referred 240 suspicious vessels to the Lebanese authorities for further inspection.

So far 12 countries have contributed naval units to the MTF: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.


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