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21 July 1992
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE
UNITED NATIONS INTERIM FORCE IN LEBANON
for the period 22 January 1992-21 July 1992)
1. By its resolution 734 (1992) of 29 January 1992, the Security Council decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for a further interim period of six months, until 31 July 1992. The Council also approved recommendations of the Secretary-General concerning the reductions in the military strength of the Force. The Council reiterated its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries; re-emphasized the terms of reference and general guidelines of the Force as stated in the report of the Secretary-General of 19 March 1978,
resolution 426 (1978)
, and called upon all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the Force for the full implementation of its mandate, and reiterated that UNIFIL should fully implement its mandate as defined in
resolution 425 (1978)
, 426 (1978) and all other relevant resolutions. The Council requested the Secretary-General to continue consultations with the Government of Lebanon and other parties directly concerned on the implementation of the resolution and to report to the Council.
Organization of the Force
2. As of July 1992, the composition of UNIFIL was as follows:
Force Mobile Reserve
Force Mobile Reserve
Composite battalion (maintenance company, defence company, armoured escort company)
Infantry battalion (including engineering company)
Force Mobile Reserve
HQ Camp Command
Force Mobile Reserve
Force Mobile Reserve
Force Mobile Reserve
Force Mobile Reserve
/ Includes an officer temporarily assigned to serve as military adviser to the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A team of four officers was detached for brief periods of duty in Yugoslavia in December 1991 and again in March 1992.
The deployment of UNIFIL as of July 1992 is shown on the map attached to this report.
3. Lieutenant-General Lars-Eric Wahlgren of Sweden continued as Force Commander.
4. Sixty-five military observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) assisted UNIFIL in the performance of its tasks. These unarmed officers are organized as Observer Group Lebanon and are under the operational control of the Force Commander of UNIFIL. They man the five observation posts along the Lebanese side of the Israel-Lebanon armistice demarcation line. They also operate four mobile teams in that part of the area of operation which is controlled by Israel. Two military observers are assigned to UNIFIL headquarters.
5. Logistic support for UNIFIL was provided by the Swedish logistic battalion, elements of the French composite battalion, the Norwegian maintenance company, the Ghanaian engineering company and the Italian helicopter unit and by some sections of the civilian staff, especially in the areas of communications and vehicle maintenance. UNIFIL employed 515 civilian staff, of whom 142 were recruited internationally and 373 locally.
6. The small Norwegian-Swedish medical team, which had served as a temporary replacement for the Swedish medical unit (see S/23452, para. 7), handed over to a medical unit from Poland on 27 April 1992.
7. The Force Mobile Reserve, a composite mechanized company, currently consisting of elements from seven contingents (Fiji, Finland, Ghana, Ireland, Nepal, Norway and Sweden), was frequently called upon to reinforce UNIFIL battalions when serious incidents occurred and during rotations.
8. UNIFIL has prepared detailed plans for the 10 per cent reduction in the military strength of UNIFIL authorized by the Security Council in resolution 734 (1992). Time was too short to implement these plans during the first set of contingent rotations in the spring. They will be implemented during the rotations in the coming mandate period.
The number of internationally recruited civilian staff is being reduced by some 17 per cent. The reductions, which will also lead to savings in transport and accommodation, will not affect UNIFIL's operational effectiveness.
9. I regret to report that a Fijian soldier lost his life as a result of firing, and a Ghanian soldier died as a result of an accident. Eight others suffered injuries as a result of firing or explosions and seven as a result of traffic accidents. Since the establishment of UNIFIL, 186 military members of the Force have died, 10 as a result of firing or mine or bomb explosions, 79 in accidents and 37 from other causes. Two hundred and eighty have been wounded by firing or mine or bomb explosions.
10. UNIFIL continued its programme of works at positions throughout its area of deployment in order to improve the protection of personnel and observation capabilities. The Force also relocated a number of positions in accordance with operational requirements. Work continued on the new, more secure, Irish battalion headquarters near Tibnin. In view of the handover of the western part of the Ghanaian battalion sector to the Lebanese Army (see para. 12 below) work was begun on the redeployment of the Ghanaian battalion headquarters to the vicinity of Bir Sanasil.
11. UNIFIL continued to have difficulty in meeting its requirements of land and premises for its checkpoints, observation posts and other installations. The main reason for this is that for several years the Government of Lebanon has failed to reimburse the owners of the properties used by UNIFIL. The last time such payments were made was in 1987. The difficulty has been compounded by the return of many Lebanese from abroad. This problem was raised with the Lebanese authorities on numerous occasions.
Cooperation with the Lebanese Army
12. In accordance with its mandate of assisting the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the UNIFIL area, and on the basis of a proposal worked out by a mixed military working group of the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL, the western part of the Ghanaian battalion sector - an area of about 32 square kilometres with seven villages - was handed over to the Lebanese Army. The handover, which involved the vacating of eight UNIFIL positions, was completed on 9 April 1992. The boundary of UNIFIL's area of operation in this sector has accordingly been redrawn as shown on the map attached to this report. Liaison with the Lebanese Array has been further improved and has been very effective . In addition, the Force Commander continued to maintain close contact with the Lebanese Army Commander.
13. UNIFIL also maintained close contact with the Lebanese authorities on other matters of mutual concern. With regard to the maintenance of law and order in the area of operation, the Force cooperated closely with the Lebanese gendarmerie, which maintained posts in Jwayya, Qana and Tibnin, as well as in Tyre and Al Buss, just outside the area of operation.
Situation in the UNIFIL area of operation
14. Israel continued to control in southern Lebanon an area manned by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and the de facto forces (DFF), the so-called "South Lebanon Army". The boundaries of the Israeli-controlled area (ICA) have not been clearly defined but are determined de facto by the forward positions of IDF and DFF. It includes territory adjacent to the armistice demarcation line, parts of the Fijian, Nepalese, Irish and Finnish battalion sectors and the entire Norwegian battalion sector, as well as sizeable areas to the north of UNIFIL' s area of operation. Within that area, IDF and DFF maintained 56 military positions, as shown on the attached map. The map also indicates where the ICA extends beyond the limits of UNIFIL's area of operation.
15. Within the ICA, Israel continued to maintain, in addition to the de facto forces, a civil administration and a security service with broad powers to pursue suspected opponents of Israeli occupation. On 17 June, five Shiite
families from Aytaroune and Houle were expelled from the ICA on security grounds. Movement between the ICA and the rest of Lebanon is strictly controlled and the ICA has become more and more dependent on Israel economically. An estimated 3,000 jobs in Israel are held by Lebanese from the ICA; access to such jobs is controlled by the DFF and the security service. Israel has continued a programme of road construction and improvements; while some of these road works are of benefit to the local population, they are in large part designed to enhance the mobility of IDF/DFF and the ability of the IDF to bring reinforcements from Israel.
16. The Norwegian battalion sector is a special case, as it has been entirely within the ICA since the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. UNIFIL nevertheless has continued to do everything possible to ensure the peaceful character of the sector in accordance with its mandate. As was pointed out to the Israeli authorities, this requires that IDF/DFF should not undertake military operations in the sector. During the period under review, IDF/DFF refrained from conducting major operations although they frequently carried out foot and vehicle patrols and fired into and within the sector. The security services and the civil administration organized by Israel continued to operate there.
17. UNIFIL continued to oppose attempts by armed elements to enter or operate within its area of deployment. At times, this led to friction at UNIFIL checkpoints, followed by harassment and threats directed at members of the Force. Such cases were generally resolved through negotiations.
18. During the period under review, UNIFIL recorded 28 operations by resistance groups against IDF/DFF (1 in the second half of January, 16 in February, 3 in March, 3 in April, 1 in May, 1 in June and 3 in the first half of July). There were also reports of attacks against IDF/DFF positions north of the Litani River, and much of the IDF artillery and mortar fire that could be observed by UNIFIL was directed at targets north of the area of operation. Within the UNIFIL area, the main means employed by the resistance groups were roadside bombs. However, on 6 April, armed elements ambushed an IDF/DFF convoy near Houle, causing casualties and taking members of the DFF prisoner.
19. In responding to such attacks or initiating action themselves, IDF/DFF employed artillery, mortars and tanks. Frequently, they fired into villages. Majdal Silm (6 and 19 February 10 and 11 March), Ghanduriyah (13 February),
Qabrikha (9 February, 11 March), Kafra (20 February), Tallusah (10 March), Frun (18 June, 18 July) and Yatar (13 July) were targets of such firing. On 11 March, following the death of a member of the DFF in a roadside bomb explosion. UNIFIL observed seven villagers being forced to walk in front of a DFF mine/bomb-clearing patrol between Tallusah and a DFF position, both just outside the Irish battalion sector.
20. Increasingly, the IDF also employed helicopter gunships to attack individual houses in the area of operation. The most serious of these attacks occurred on 21 May, when missiles were fired from Cobra helicopters at two houses in Dirdghaya in the Ghanaian battalion sector; six persons were killed and four wounded. Similar attacks were directed at houses in Shaqra (18 March; one killed and one wounded), Yatar (23 April), Majdal Silm (31 May), Bir Sanasi1 (31 May), Siddiqin (18 June) and Haris (30 June). Helicopter gunships were also employed against the Palestine refugee camp at Reshidiyah (15 February, 1 July), which is just outside UNIFIL's area of operation.
21. A very tense situation developed in February, following the killing of Sheikh Abbas Musawi, the General Secretary of Hizballah, together with his wife and young son by Israeli forces who attacked his car with helicopters on 16 February north of the Litani River. This was followed by heavy exchanges of artillery and rocket fire between Lebanese armed elements and IDF/DFF. The shelling affected towns in northern Israel and numerous villages in south Lebanon. Within the UNIFIL area of operation, the Nepalese and Irish battalion sectors were mainly affected, and many of the inhabitants in these sectors fled their homes.
22. On 20 February, an Israeli armoured force, assisted by elements of the DFF, launched an incursion in the direction of Kafra in the Nepalese battalion sector. The force comprised two reinforced companies with tanks, armoured personnel carriers and bulldozers. UNIFIL took up blocking positions south of Kafra, which were manned by the Nepalese battalion, the Force Mobile Reserve and the Fijian Battalion Mobile Reserve and held up the Israeli force for two and one half hours. During this time many of the inhabitants fled the area. IDF bulldozers then pushed UNIFIL's obstacles aside and the Israeli force was able to move forward towards Kafra. It was engaged by armed elements, who had come to stop the Israeli advance. During the incursion, the area was shelled by IDF/DFF artillery and mortars and strafed from Israeli helicopter gunships. The Israeli force withdrew the next morning. Five Fijian soldiers were wounded in an explosion caused by a missile fired from one of the helicopters and their evacuation by UNIFIL helicopter was delayed as a result of repeated warnings by the Israeli military authorities not to fly; one of the five died from his wounds some two weeks later.
23. I protested strongly to the Government of Israel about this incursion and, on my instructions, Mr. Marrack Goulding and Mr. Kofi Annan, respectively Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General for Peace-keeping Operations, travelled to the area in view of the serious situation that had developed. Mr. Goulding and Mr. Annan met with high Lebanese and Israeli officials and held discussions with the Force Commander of UNIFIL and his senior staff; they also visited Kafra, which had suffered heavy damage in the Israeli shelling. The tension in the area diminished towards the end of February.
24. During the reporting period, there were 175 instances of firing by IDF/DFF at or close to UNIFIL positions. On 15 July, a UNIFIL position south of Qabrikha in the Irish battalion sector came under tank fire from an IDF/DFF position at Qanterah. Five tank rounds were fired, of which two hit the position causing damage. During the firing, the Irish Unit's radio net was jammed. A short while later, a UNIFIL position in nearby Tulin came under artillery fire. Four rounds fell close to the position, bracketing it; a fifth round fell into the position. The latter was a 155-millimetre illumination round, which caused a fire. Deliberate firing at UNIFIL positions has been the subject of frequent protests to the Israeli authorities.
25. As in the past, UNIFIL detonated mines, roadside bombs and unexploded remnants of war, and dismantled ordnance of various types in the area of deployment. Sixty-five controlled explosions were carried out.
26. UNIFIL continued to extend humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in its area, to the extent possible within available resources. Such assistance was provided in the form of medical supplies, water, clothes, food, fuel, electricity, engineering work, repairs to buildings damaged as a result of fighting and escort for farmers. In addition, water projects, equipment or services for schools and gifts of supplies to social services and needy people were provided from resources made available by troop-contributing Governments. UNIFIL medical centres and mobile teams provided care to an average of 3,000 civilian-patients per month and a field dental programme was also provided. The Force cooperated closely on such matters with the Lebanese authorities, the United Nations agencies and programmes operating in Lebanon, the International Committee of the Red Cross and nongovernmental organizations. The cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was particularly effective in dealing with the effects of the very harsh winter. UNIFIL used funds received through UNDP to replace livestock and crops and to repair damage to greenhouses and distributed food provided by the World Food Programme together with the Lebanese government; 117 tons of food were distributed to 60 villages and 2,500 families. UNIFIL personnel contributed US$ 9,000 for humanitarian work ranging from the provision of a bus for an orphanage in Tibnin to the purchase of school books. In early July, UNIFIL transported and guarded the baccalaureate examination papers on their way from Beirut to the south.
27. By its resolution 46/194 of 20 December 1991, the General Assembly authorized the Secretary-General to enter into commitments for UNIFIL at a rate not to exceed $13,337,000 gross ($13,089,000 net) per month for the period beginning 1 February 1992, should the Security Council decide to continue the Force beyond the period of six months authorized under its resolution 701 (1991). The authorization is subject to the prior concurrence of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions as to the actual level of commitments to be entered into for each mandate period that may be approved subsequent to 31 January 1992. By its resolution 734 (1992) of 29 January 1992, the Security Council extended the mandate of UNIFIL to 31 July 1992. Should the Council decide to extend UNIFIL beyond its current mandate period, the costs to the United Nations for maintaining the Force during the extension period would be within the commitment authorized by the Assembly in its resolution 46/194.
28. As at mid-July 1992, unpaid assessed contributions to the UNIFIL Special Account for the period since the inception of the Force through 31 July 1992, amounted to $231.2 million.
29. During the last six months, the situation in southern Lebanon has been marked by a continuously high level of firing. The events of last February, which are described in paragraphs 21 and 22 of this report, highlight the volatility that continues to afflict the area.
30. UNIFIL continued, to the best of its ability, to prevent its area from being used for hostile activities. It also continued to do all it could to protect civilians caught in the conflict. In carrying out its tasks, it was, however, severely hampered by the amount of firing directed at UNIFIL itself. I reiterate my appeal to all parties concerned to respect UNIFIL's international and impartial status. It is equally important that they show proper regard for the lives of non-combatant men, women and children.
31. As in the past, the hostilities in the UNIFIL area generally focused on certain IDF/DFF positions that are close to population centres and in areas where UNIFIL is deployed. I have reminded the Israeli authorities of the United Nations proposal that IDF/DFF be withdrawn from these positions, which would then be taken over by UNIFIL (see S/23255, para. 9) . I continue to believe that such a move would have a beneficial effect and I hope that the new government in Israel will give it a positive response.
32. A source of encouragement has been the Lebanese Army's assumption of responsibility for a part of the UNIFIL area of operation. This move represents a further important step towards the restoration of the Government's authority in southern Lebanon. It is to be hoped that it will be matched by progress in regard to the other elements of resolution 425 (1978), whose continuing validity the Security Council reaffirmed on 29 January 1992 when it adopted resolution 734 (1992).
33. Israel's general attitude to the situation in southern Lebanon and to UNIFIL's mandate remains as described in previous reports. The Israeli authorities continue to state that they have no territorial ambitions in Lebanon, and that the "security zone" is a temporary arrangement for the purpose of ensuring the security of northern Israel so long as the Lebanese Government is not able to exercise effective authority and prevent its territory from being used to launch attacks against Israel. The Israeli authorities further consider that all issues between Israel and Lebanon should be dealt with in the bilateral talks in the framework of the peace process.
34. The Government of Lebanon has outlined its position in a letter which its Permanent Representative to the United Nations addressed to me on 15 July 1992 (S/24293) . In that letter the Permanent Representative also informed me of his Government's decision to request the Security Council to extend UNIFIL's mandate for a further period of six months.
35. As is clear from this report, UNIFIL has once again been prevented from carrying out its mandate and the parties to the conflict in south Lebanon continue to be locked in a vicious cycle from which UNIFIL's presence is meant to provide an exit. Instead, in the absence of the cooperation which is essential to the success of any peace-keeping operation, UNIFIL's efforts have merely succeeded in limiting the consequences of the parties' actions' something on which they seem to have come to rely. UNIFIL's contribution to stability in the region remains nevertheless important, all the more so at a time of negotiation. I therefore recommend that the Security Council accept the Lebanese Government's request and extend UNIFIL's mandate for another period of six months, that is, until 31 January 1993.
36. In making this recommendation, I must once again draw attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to some $231 million. This represents money owed to the Member States which contribute the troops who make up the Force. I appeal to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.
37. In conclusion, I wish to pay a tribute to Lieutenant-General Lars-Eric Wahlgren, the Force Commander, and to all the men and women under his command and operational control, both military and civilian, for the manner in which they have carried out their difficult task. Their discipline and bearing have been of a high order, reflecting credit on themselves, on their countries and on the United Nations.
Official Records of the Security Council, Thirty-third Year, Supplement for January, February and March 1978
, document S/12611.