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


SC/6249
30 July 1996


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF UNIFIL UNTIL 31 JANUARY 1997,

BY RESOLUTION 1968 (1996) ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY


Presidential Statement Regrets Loss of Civilian Life


The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for another six months, until 31 January 1997, condemned all acts of violence in particular against the Force and urged the parties to end them. The current mandate expires tomorrow, 31 July.

By resolution 1068 (1996), adopted unanimously, the Council reiterated its strong support for Lebanon's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence and called upon all parties concerned to fully cooperate with the Force for the full implementation of its mandate. The Secretary-General was requested by the Council to continue consultations with the Lebanese Government and other parties directly concerned with the implementation of the present resolution and report back to the Council.

The Council welcomed the completion of the streamlining of the Force as described in the Secretary-General's report and encouraged further efficiency and savings as long as they did not affect its operational capacity.

Also this morning, through a statement read by its President, Alain Dejammet (France), the Council expressed concern over the continuing violence in southern Lebanon and regretted the loss of civilian life. It urged all parties to exercise restraint and again stressed the urgent need for the full implementation of resolution 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978, which, among other things, called on Israel to immediately cease its military action against the territorial integrity of Lebanon and withdraw its forces from there.

Through this morning's presidential statement, the Council reaffirmed its commitment to the full sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries. In that context, it asserted that all States should refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State or in any manner that violated the purposes of the United Nations.

The UNIFIL was established in March 1978 for an initial six-month period to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, restore international peace and security and help the Lebanese Government re-establish its authority in the area.

The meeting, which was called at 11:48 a.m., was adjourned at 11:54 a.m.

Secretary-General's Report on UNIFIL

The Security Council meets this morning to consider the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). It has before it a report of the Secretary-General (document S/1996/575), for the period 20 January to 20 July, in which he recommends that the Council extend the Force's mandate for six months, until 31 January 1997. The Secretary-General states that the last six months were marked by the serious escalation of hostilities in April, of which the population of southern Lebanon was the primary victim. The UNIFIl, too, came under fire. It is a matter of regret that the United Nations once again has cause to call upon the parties concerned to respect the non-combatant status of civilians and United Nations peace-keepers, he adds.

The recommendation to extend the mandate, the Secretary-General continues, is made in view of the Force's role in contributing to stability and in protecting the civilian population from the worst effects of the violence. Notwithstanding the events of last April, those considerations are still valid, bearing in mind the likely effect in the area if UNIFIL were to be withdrawn in present circumstances. The extension would conform with the Lebanese Government's request in a letter from its Permanent Representative (document S/1996/566), that the Force's operational strength and capacity be maintained.

The Secretary-General writes that the period had witnessed serious escalations of hostilities between the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and its local Lebanese auxiliary, the de facto forces (DFF), on the one hand, and armed elements who have proclaimed their resistance to Israeli occupation, on the other. Most of the attacks against the IDF/DFF were by the Islamic Resistance, the military wing of the Shiite Muslim Hizbullah organization. Others were carried out by the Shiite movement Amal and some by Palestinian factions. The hostilities intensified in February and March, culminating in April in more than two weeks of heavy Israeli bombardments. The Security Council adopted resolution 1052 (1996) on 18 April, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. On 10 May, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the matter.

By 13 April, about 90 towns and villages had been placed under the threat of Israeli attacks. As a result of the threats and the Israeli bombardment, about one quarter of the inhabitants, more than 100,000, left UNIFIL's area of operation and Tyre. At the same time, IDF carried out limited attacks around Beirut. The UNIFIL counted more than 600 Israeli air raids and the firing of some 25,000 Israeli artillery shells in its area of operation.

Throughout the bombardment, the Secretary-General writes, the Islamic Resistance fired some 1,100 rockets from the UNIFIL area. Many fell short, with an estimated 600 landing in northern Israel and its villages and towns, causing injuries to civilians and damage. On 14 April, a rocket fell inside UNIFIL headquarters at Naqoura, causing minor damage. More than 120 civilians were killed by Israeli fire and some 500 wounded in the UNIFIL area of deployment. Most of the casualties resulted from an 18 April shelling of a United Nations compound at Qana, in which more than 100 Lebanese were killed and many more wounded. There were about 270 firings at or close to UNIFIL positions, of which about 15 were by the Islamic Resistance and the rest by IDF/DFF.

The hostilities ended on 27 April, when a partial cease-fire went into effect, following diplomatic efforts by France and the United States, according to the Secretary-General.

The UNIFIL continued to extend humanitarian assistance and its medical teams treated more than 2,000 patients each month. At the request of the Lebanese Government, the United Nations system launched a "flash appeal" on 20 April to mobilize $8.6 million to meet urgent humanitarian needs resulting from the April hostilities. About $14 million was committed by donors.

Emphasizing that the UNIFIL special account is owed some $201.9 million in unpaid dues, the Secretary-General appeals to Member States to pay their assessments promptly.

As of July, according to the Secretary-General, UNIFIL comprised 4,483 troops, helped in their tasks by 57 military observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. The streamlining of UNIFIL, mentioned in previous reports and welcomed by the Council, was completed in May. The Force will continue seeking savings in administrative and support services.

Text of Draft Resolution

The Council also has before it a draft resolution (document S/1996/599), the text of which reads as follows:


Action on Draft Resolution

The Security Council unanimously adopted the draft text as resolution 1068 (1996).

Presidential Statement

Following the adoption of the resolution, Council President Alain Dejammet (France) read out a statement on behalf o the Council. The text of the statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/1996/33, reads as follows:

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