The UN is urging authorities in Lebanon to conduct a quick and thorough investigation into an attack earlier this week against peacekeepers maintaining security and stability in the south of the country.
The ‘blue helmets’ were attacked on Tuesday night by unknown perpetrators. Their UN vehicles were vandalized and official items were stolen.
“Contrary to some subsequent media disinformation, the peacekeepers were not taking photos and were not on private property. They were on their way to meet Lebanese Armed Forces colleagues for a routine patrol,” UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Thursday.
The peacekeepers are deployed with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)., originally established in 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from the country.
The mission was greatly reinforced after fighting in 2006 to oversee the cessation of hostilities between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Freedom of movement
Mr. Dujarric said the denial of UNIFIL’s freedom of movement, and any aggression against those serving the cause of peace, is unacceptable and violates the Status of Forces Agreement between the UN and the Lebanese Government.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701, adopted in 2006, requires that the mission must have full and unimpeded access throughout its area of operations, he added.
“We’re calling on all concerned parties to respect peacekeepers’ freedom of movement, which is critical to fulfilling UNIFIL’s mandate under Resolution 1701 and call on the Lebanese authorities to investigate quickly and thoroughly, and prosecute all those responsible for these crimes.”
Last month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres conducted an official visit to Lebanon, where he affirmed solidarity with the people.
The country continues to face numerous challenges, including political upheaval, an economic and financial crisis, and the devastating impacts of the August 2020 explosion at the port in the capital, Beirut.