Monday, May 30, 2011

UNIFIL Force Commander statement on his meetings with Lebanese officials, 30 May 2011

UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas held separate meetings in Beirut today [Monday] with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander General Jean Kahwaji.

The Force Commander thanked the Lebanese authorities for their strong statements of support for UNIFIL and condemnation of the despicable attack against the peacekeepers. He expressed his deepest appreciation for the strong solidarity and support of the LAF following the attack and the care extended to the six injured peacekeepers by the medical team at the Hammoud Hospital in Saida.

Major-General Asarta reassured the officials that UNIFIL will stay the course and stressed the importance of completing the investigation with utmost urgency.

After the meeting, the Force Commander said: “We had very good meetings. I was heartened by the strong voices of support reiterated by the leaders and a common resolve to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice.”

“UNIFIL peacekeepers remain determined more than ever to pursue our mandated tasks with greater vigour. We will not allow this incident to interrupt our operations on the ground which are continuing in full measure in cooperation with the LAF,” he added.

“I was assured that the Lebanese authorities and the people at large share the same determination towards the continued implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and we agreed that to this end security and safety of UNIFIL peacekeepers is vital,” Major-General Asarta said.

Friday, May 27, 2011

UN chief condemns attack on peacekeepers in southern Lebanon.

27 May 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned today’s attack on United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon, adding that it is all the more deplorable as it occurred on the day the Organization has set aside for honouring the men and women who work to advance peace in war-torn countries.
According to media reports, a roadside bomb ripped through a convoy of UN vehicles carrying Italian peacekeepers serving with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which is headquartered at Naqoura in southern Lebanon.
The UN said it is still receiving details about the attack, but it is clear that a number of peacekeepers have been wounded.
Speaking in Deauville, France, where he is attending the annual summit of the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialized nations, Mr. Ban extended his sincere sympathies to the peacekeepers and their families as well as the people and Government of Italy.
“The United Nations will work closely together with the Lebanese authorities to have a full and swift investigation on the attack to bring the perpetrators to justice,” said the Secretary-General.
The attack comes on the same day that the world body commemorates the International Day of UN Peacekeepers to honour colleagues who lost their lives in the line of duty and pay tribute to the 120,000 military, police and civilians who are working under the blue flag around the world for the cause of peace.
Originally created by the Security Council in March 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, UNIFIL was reinforced after the July-August 2006 fighting, with the added mandate to monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian.

Friday, May 06, 2011

New Lebanese government should be formed as soon as possible – UN envoy.

6 May 2011 – The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon today reiterated the need for the formation without delay of a functioning government, noting the many issues that remain to be addressed by the authorities.
“There are many concerns of importance to ordinary Lebanese people that need to be addressed, irrespective of their confession or their politics. These include social issues, economic issues but also security concerns,” Michael Williams told reporters in Beirut following a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri.
UN officials, including Mr. Williams and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have been calling on Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate, Najib Miqati, and other leaders to quickly form a new government.
The former government, led by Saad Hariri, collapsed in January after 11 Hizbollah and allied ministers resigned, reportedly over its refusal to cease cooperation with the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon that is investigating the 2005 assassination of Mr. Hariri’s father, Rafiq, and 22 others.
In a recent report relating to Lebanon, Mr. Ban warned that the absence of a functioning government for several months “has created a power and security vacuum of which extremist and armed groups could take advantage, in an already fragile and polarized situation.”
Mr. Williams and Mr. Berri also discussed the recent developments in the Arab world and the changes that have been taking place, as protesters across North Africa and the Middle East take to the streets demanding greater rights and freedoms.
They also discussed maritime issues, reiterating the UN’s position that Lebanon is fully entitled to take the necessary measures to explore and exploit such resources within its territorial waters.
“This is one more reason, a very important reason, why a new government should be formed as soon as possible,” said Mr. Williams.
Meanwhile, Terje Roed-Larsen, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Security Council resolution 1559, which deals with Lebanon, briefed Council members in a closed-door session on Mr. Ban’s latest report on the issue.
In a related development, the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal, Daniel Bellemare, filed an amended indictment today, replacing the indictment of 11 March 2011, to include substantive new elements that had been unavailable until recently.
“The Prosecutor does not intend to make further amendments to the indictment, unless ordered to do so by the Pre-Trial Judge. Other indictments could, however, be filed in the future if warranted by the evidence,” UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.
The tribunal was set up following a probe by the International Independent Investigation Commission after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and the others was seriously flawed.