Croatian Army to Take Part in Dangerous UN Mission in Lebanon?

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The UN peacekeepeing mission operates in a buffer zone between Lebanon and Israel.

According to an announcement made by Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, about a hundred members of the Croatian Army could soon be sent to another UN peace mission, if approved by the Parliament, reports Jutarnji List on November 9, 2017.

UNIFIL is a peacekeeping mission on the border between Lebanon and Israel. Croatia would send an engineering unit, accompanied by security forces. It is one of the most dangerous UN missions, in which about 310 members of UN forces have been killed so far. The mission was first established in 1978. In addition to using firearms in self-defence, the UN troops are also equipped with tanks, anti-aircraft weapons and artillery.

The current mission is conducted under the UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was adopted in 2006, and its implementation continues to create a great deal of controversy, with constant accusations from both sides against the international peacekeepers.

The resolution envisages disarmament of all armed formations in Lebanon, except the country’s official army. According to the Israeli position, this disarmament should be done by the UN. According to UN Interpretation, however, disarmament needs to be carried out by Lebanese authorities, and the UN is there to intervene only if requested by the Lebanese government.

The mission is more dangerous than most other UN missions, with one of the most recent open conflicts taking part in 2006, when several UN observers were killed in an attack. It is a mission which certainly brings with itself a substantial risk. The total number of UN peacekeepers, along with civilian staff, is about 15,000, and the peace mission includes a navy whose task is to prevent smuggling of weapons. Hezbollah has received most of the weapons from Iran and Syria, a large part of it by sea routes. After the war began in neighbouring Syria, Hezbollah took part in the fighting on the side of Bashar al-Assad, the official Syrian army and Iranian-back groups.

Despite ongoing accusations by both sides of bias in favour of the other side and relatively frequent incidents, the local population mostly welcomes the UN peacekeeping mission. In addition to providing aid to local residents in demining and rebuilding of devastated infrastructure, the UN forces run hospitals and veterinary clinics, and provide education for children, especially in computer science and languages.

If the proposal is accepted, the Croatian Army will return to this part of the world after participating in a mission on the Golan Heights, from which Croatia withdrew after the escalation of the war in Syria and several attacks on members of the UN forces there.

Translated from Jutarnji List.


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