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UNIFIL mandate in Lebanon expires

August 31, 2011 - NEW YORK

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was created in 1978 to confirm an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and assist Beirut in restoring effective authority near the border. Since August 2006, in addition to monitoring the cessation of hostilities along the UN's Blue Line, it is charged with protecting displaced peoples as they return home. Criticism of the UN military force comes from nearly everyone in the region. Nevertheless, most UN observers expect its mandate to be renewed.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was created in 1978 to confirm an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and assist Beirut in restoring effective authority near the border. Since August 2006, in addition to monitoring the cessation of hostilities along the UN's Blue Line, it is charged with protecting displaced peoples as they return home. Criticism of the UN military force comes from nearly everyone in the region. Nevertheless, most UN observers expect its mandate to be renewed. Many commentators see UNIFIL-; and its US $680 million a year budget -; as a way of helping governments of countries such as Bangladesh, Brunei and Fiji earn a bit of extra cash for no tangible benefit. In southern Lebanon, civilians have at times tried to physically prevent UNIFIL from withdrawing from border skirmishes, pointing to their bombed-out homes as proof that there is still not enough security to justify returning home. Israelis are equally critical of the UN force made up of 12,000 troops from 29 countries. Former diplomat, Itamar Rabinovich, criticized it as a joke that can't stop even the smallest of incidents. Ehud Olmert described it as 'useless and helpless.'; For its part, Hizbollah often accuses UNIFIL of spying for Israel. Since November 2010, UNIFIL has sought to implement a tacit agreement with Jerusalem for Israeli troops to pull out of the Lebanese town of Ghajar, which was seized in the war with Hizbullah in 2006. Deeply unpopular with residents, the proposed withdrawal would see two thirds of Ghajar's people come under Lebanese authority, while five hundred civilians would have remained under Israeli military jurisdiction. STORY WRITTEN BY NEWSAHEAD CORRESPONDENT LAWRENCE SMALLMAN.

What is UNIFIL?

UNIFIL budget 2010

Brunei sends 4th UNIFIL contingent (Brunei Times 17 Oct 2010)

Lebanese media decry UNIFIL 'impotence' in border clash

(Zee News 4 Aug 2010) UNIFIL in dark over Israeli freeze on Ghajar pullout (AFP/France 24 10 Feb 2011)

Date written/update: 2011-08-31