Germany took the helm 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 Israel-Hizbollah war.
The naval force, part of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), has been deployed on the request of the Lebanese Government to help the country’s navy secure territorial waters and help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms and other materials by sea into the Middle Eastern nation.
“Through its monitoring activities, the MTF has not only been playing a critical deterrence role, warding off all attempts at illegal arms trafficking,” said UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano at the handover ceremony from Italy to Germany. “It has also contributed to a safe environment for commercial ships travelling to and from Lebanon.”
Since the start of operations in October 2006, the Force has hailed some 27,000 ships and referred nearly 400 suspicious vessels to Lebanese authorities for further inspection.
Thirteen countries – Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey – have contributed naval units to the MTF.