In a unanimous vote, Council members agreed to extend UNIFIL until 31 August 2008, saying the deployment of the peacekeeping mission “together with the Lebanese Armed Forces has helped to establish a new strategic environment in southern Lebanon.”
They also called on all parties to respect the cessation of hostilities and the entirety of the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon.
First created in 1978, UNIFIL’s mandate and size were enhanced last year in the wake of the deadly conflict between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hizbollah, and today’s resolution urged all sides to cooperate fully with the mission and to do their utmost to respect the safety of UN personnel in the region.
In June, a UN patrol in southern Lebanon was struck by a bomb, killing six Spanish peacekeepers and seriously wounding two other blue helmets, while last month an explosion occurred near a UNIFIL vehicle but there were no casualties.
In addition to its original mandate, UNIFIL now has responsibility, among other tasks, for: monitoring the cessation of hostilities; supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces as they deploy in the south of the country; and helping ensure humanitarian access to civilians and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.
The mission currently fields more than 13,000 troops out of its increased ceiling of 15,000.