UN protests obstruction of peacekeepers' movement in south Lebanon
The United Nations on Friday raised concerns over violations of the freedom of movement of its peacekeepers in southern Lebanon as tensions have increased between the UN force and local population, dpa reported.
The UN special envoy for Lebanon, Michael Williams, met in Beirut with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss this week's incidents involving the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL.
"UNIFIL's freedom of movement was violated and UN troop contributing countries are quite concerned," Williams said in Beirut. His statement was made available at UN headquarters in New York. He said he will travel next week to New York to discuss the situation with the UN Security Council.
"We must insist that freedom of movement of UNIFIL is fully respected," he said. "UNIFIL's exercise was carried out as part of its normal operations and with full respect of its mandate, and indeed the Lebanese Armed Forces assisted UNIFIL in defusing tensions."
Williams said the council is scheduled to review the situation in southern Lebanon and UNIFIL's activities. A report submitted to the council said confrontations between UN troops with civilians have increased and are a matter of concern.
It said groups of civilians blocked a patrol by UNIFIL and the Lebanese army as they were investigating a shooting in a village. The report said three UN soldiers were injured and their vehicles damaged during a clash with civilians.
The report said arms smuggling in southern Lebanon has continued despite an embargo ordered by the UN Security Council in Resolution 1701 in 2006, which ended the brief war between Israel and Hezbollah.
Israel claimed that Hezbollah continued to receive Scud missiles from Syria, which contributed to raising tensions in the region.