While carrying out its core tasks aimed at maintaining calm and stability in southern Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701, UNIFIL peacekeepers, in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), conduct vehicle and foot patrols in their area of operations between the Litani River and the Blue Line, despite the rough terrain and harsh winter weather conditions
For UNIFIL Indian peacekeeper, Captain Rishabh Kumar Nashine, these patrols are an extremely important part of the Mission’s mandate.
“Basically, we carry out various patrols such as section foot-vehicle patrols, and community engagement market walks,” Cpt. Nashine said.
“The main objective of these patrols is to ensure that in the area peace prevails and prevents incidents. But, if something happens then it must be observed, monitored and reported to the headquarters,” he added.
These ground operations help maintain the overall calm and stability along the Blue Line and within the Mission’s 1,060 square kilometre area of operations – a stability that has prevailed since 2006.
“The terrain and weather conditions are not an issue for us because we are adequately equipped, so this is not a main concern. Our main concerns are regarding the communication, but to avoid any miscommunication or misinterpretation, we do have our language assistants with us at all times,” he noted.
In the Shab’a area, these coordinated activities usually involve clearing transit and supply road routes for the local population.
Another UNIFIL Indian peacekeeper, Captain Deepak Kumar, shares some insights on the presence of UNIFIL peacekeepers in the area of operations, especially near Shab’a.
“It is important to monitor the activities of shepherds who take their herds near the Blue Line in order to avoid any violations and thus maintaining the sanctity of the Blue Line,” he said.
“The stability and peace remain our prime objective and getting to know well the area of Shab’a and its nearby areas needs to be taken into account,” he concluded.
However, the military patrols do not sum up everything that has been done by UNIFIL, especially in that area with rugged routes usually blocked by snow in winter time. In such a situation, UNIFIL uses its heavy vehicles to open roads, deliver food supplies as well as assisting the local population, shepherds, their livestock and herds with their immediate needs. UNIFIL’s veterinarian peacekeepers from India and Spain, stationed in the area, also provide vet services to livestock, including vaccines and essential medicines.