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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


SC/6795
31 January 2000



SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS FORCE IN LEBANON UNTIL 31 JULY,

UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1288 (2000)


The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until 31 July.

Adopting Security Council resolution 1288 (2000) unanimously, the Council condemned all acts of violence against the Force and urged the parties to put an end to them. It re-emphasized the terms of reference and general guidelines of the Force and called upon the parties concerned to cooperate fully with the Force for the full implementation of its mandate.

The Council also reiterated its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries.

In a statement read out by its President, Richard Holbrooke (United States), the Council expressed concern over the continuing violence in southern Lebanon and regret for the loss of civilian life, urging all parties to exercise restraint. The Council also noted with deep concern the high level of casualties that UNIFIL has suffered and paid a special
tribute to all those who had given their life while serving.

The Council also reiterated its full support for the efforts of the Lebanese Government to consolidate peace, national unity and security in the country, while successfully carrying out the reconstruction process. Further, the Council commended the Government for its successful effort to extend its authority in the South of the country in full coordination with UNIFIL.

The meeting began at 9:44 a.m. and adjourned at 9:48 a.m.


Resolution

The full text of resolution 1288 (2000) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,


Presidential Statement

The full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as S/PRST/2000/3, reads as follows:


Secretary-General's Report

When the Security Council met this morning to consider the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General for the period from 16 July 1999 to 15 January 2000 (document S/2000/28), which recommends that the mandate of the Force be extended until 31 July.

The Secretary-General states that during the past six months, hostilities continued at a somewhat reduced level between the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and their local Lebanese auxiliary, the de facto forces (DFF), on the one hand, and armed elements who have proclaimed their resistance against the Israeli occupation, on the other. A significant political development for the region, however, was the resumption, in December 1999, of negotiations between Israel and the Syria, under the auspices of the United States.

According to the Secretary-General, the majority of operations carried out by armed elements against IDF/DFF from the second half of July to the first half of January were carried out by the Islamic Resistance, the military wing of the Shiite Muslim Hizballah organization, while the Shiite movement AMAL took responsibility for some 65 operations. As before, the Israeli navy patrolled Lebanese territorial waters in the south and continued to impose restrictions on local fishermen.

In the area where it is deployed, the Secretary-General goes on to say, UNIFIL continued efforts to limit the conflict and to protect the inhabitants through a network of checkpoints and observation posts, an active programme of patrolling and continuous contacts with the parties. The Force was also deployed, as necessary, to provide a measure of protection to villages and to farmers working in the fields. Nevertheless, in the UNIFIL area of operation, there were several incidents in which civilians were killed or injured.

There were other reports of serious incidents from outside the area of operation, the Secretary-General continues. On 1 September, two civilians were killed in Libbaya by IDF/DFF shelling. On 16 December, 15 school children were injured, some of them seriously, in Arab Salim, when two mortar rounds fired by IDF/DFF impacted on the schoolyard. IDF issued a public apology for the shelling; armed elements did not retaliate.

Within the Israeli-controlled area, says the Secretary-General, Israel continued to maintain a civil administration and security service. The infrastructure in the area continued to be improved with funds provided by the Government of Lebanon. However, the area remained economically dependent on Israel. IDF/DFF also conducted search operations for arms in several villages in the Israeli-controlled area and, from time to time, restricted the movement of the inhabitants. A number of persons were arrested and imprisoned in Khiam, while others were expelled from their villages and ordered to leave the area.

According to the report, In performing its tasks, the Force at times encountered hostile reactions. There were two incidents in which United Nations personnel were threatened and harassed by armed elements. Strong protests were made about those incidents through the Lebanese Army. UNIFIL itself was targeted on several occasions. On 23 September, a United Nations armoured personnel carrier went over an explosive device planted by armed elements near Buyut as Sayyid. Three Fijian soldiers sustained injuries. On 6 October, IDF/DFF fired a mortar round at a United Nations position near Frun, fortunately causing only minor damage.

UNIFIL continued to assist the civilian population in the form of medical care, harvest patrols, water projects, equipment or services for schools and orphanages, and supplies to social services and needy people, the report states. Such assistance was provided from resources made available by troop-contributing countries. UNIFIL also assisted the Government of Lebanon in transporting and distributing supplies to villages in the Israeli-controlled area when they faced shortages owing to restrictions imposed by IDF/DFF. UNIFIL also cooperated closely on humanitarian matters with the Lebanese authorities, United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other organizations and agencies operating in Lebanon.

As in the past, UNIFIL continued the disposal of unexploded ordnance in its area of operation, says the Secretary-General. In all, 60 controlled explosions were carried out. Since the establishment of the Force, 229 of its members have lost their lives: 77 as a result of firings or bomb explosions, 94 in accidents; and 58 from other causes. A total of 341 were wounded by firing, or by mine or bomb explosions.

The Secretary-General goes on to say that should the Council decide to extend the mandate of UNIFIL, the cost of maintaining the Force would be limited to the monthly rate approved by the General Assembly. As at 31 December 1999, unpaid assessments to the Special Account for UNIFIL for the period since its inception to 31 January 2000 amounted to $108.7 million.

The Secretary-General urges the parties to continue to exercise restraint and respect the non-combatant status of civilians. He shall also continue to follow the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Syria closely and revert to the Council should there be any change in the situation relevant to the implementation of resolution 425 (1978).

The Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations, in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General on 28 December 1999 (S/1999/1284), conveyed his Government's request that the Council extend UNIFIL's mandate for a further period of six months. While the Mission continues to be prevented from implementing the mandate, its contribution to stability and the protection it is able to afford the population of the area remain important.

The unpaid assessments of $108.7 million represents money owed to the Member States contributing the troops that make up the Force. The Secretary-General appeals to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.


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