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


Security Council
4593rd Meeting (PM)
SC/7473
30 July 2002



SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNIFIL MANDATE TO 31 JANUARY 2003


The Security Council, stressing the need to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on all its relevant resolutions, decided this afternoon to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until 31 January 2003.

By its unanimous adoption of resolution 1428 (2002), the Council condemned all acts of violence.  Expressing great concern over the serious breaches, as well as the air, sea and land violations of the withdrawal line, the Council urged the parties to put an end to those violations and abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel.

In a related provision, the Council called on the parties to ensure UNIFIL is accorded full freedom of movement in the discharge of its mandate throughout its area of operation.  Council members expressed support for the continued efforts of UNIFIL to maintain the ceasefire along the withdrawal line and to resolve incidents and prevent escalations.

Further by the text, the Council encouraged the Government of Lebanon to ensure a calm environment throughout the south, and commended the steps it had taken to ensure the return of its effective authority throughout that region, including the deployment of Lebanese armed forces, and called on it to continue those measures.

The meeting began at 5:05 p.m., and ended at 5:07 p.m.

Resolution

The following is the full text of Council resolution 1428 (2002):


Background

In his latest report on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document S/2002/746), the Secretary-General says that tensions increased in that mission’s area of operation over the past six months, with an outbreak of violent incidents across the Blue Line during the first two weeks of April surpassing any activity since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000.  Those events coincided with the substantial escalation of tension in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.  Militant activities were carried out by Hezbollah, as well as Palestinian and unidentified elements both inside and outside the Shab’a Farms area.  Also, throughout most of the reporting period (from 17 January 2002 to
12 July 2002), unjustified Israeli incursions into sovereign Lebanese airspace continued on an almost daily basis, often penetrating deep into Lebanon.  Those events have “underscored the fragility of the situation and demonstrated how readily tensions can escalate”.
The report further states that the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed-Larsen, and the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative for southern Lebanon, Staffan de Mistura, engaged in concerted diplomatic activity to de-escalate the violence, the report further states.  The UNIFIL increased its patrols, and its Commander intervened personally with the parties on the ground to contain incidents.  Key members of the international community were active in urging the parties to exercise restraint.

“Violations of the Blue Line, whether they entail a physical crossing of the line or skirting it, cannot be justified”, the Secretary-General states.  The Government of Lebanon, however, continued to maintain the position that, as long as there was no comprehensive peace with Israel, the Lebanese armed forces would not be deployed along the Blue Line.  In that vacuum, Hezbollah maintained its visible presence near the line through its network of mobile and fixed positions, also continuing to extend social, medical and educational services to the local population in areas near the Blue Line.

The Secretary-General also remains concerned about the restriction of movement on UNIFIL personnel, who must be able to carry out their mandate.  In the most serious incident, on 4 April, about 15 Hezbollah personnel forced an Observer Group Lebanon patrol south-west of Kafr Shuba to stop at gunpoint and assaulted the observers with rifle butts, injuring three, one seriously.

The Secretary-General informs the Council that planning for the reconfiguration of UNIFIL proceeded during the period under review.  The next phase of the reduction and redeployment was commencing at the time of writing of the report, with the repatriation and non-replacement of about 135 Ukrainian troops.  Owing to operational exigencies, the first planned reduction of the Fijian contingent scheduled for June was postponed till August.  That technical adjustment to the schedule does not, however, otherwise affect the timetable set forth in the Secretary-General’s previous report (document S/2002/55).  The Force will be stabilized at a strength of 2,000 by the end of 2002.

In the light of conditions prevailing in the area, the Security Council may wish to decide to extend the mandate of UNIFIL until 31 January 2003, the Secretary-General concludes.  He also appeals to Member States to pay their assessments to the mission, for currently unpaid dues to the mission amount to some $106.5 million.
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