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UN Chief Visiting Lebanon Peacekeepers

Annan (center) touring the southern suburbs of Beirut on August 28 (epa) August 29, 2006 -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is continuing his 11-day Mideast tour by visiting UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon.

Annan landed a short time ago in Naqoura, a town on the Mediterranean coast near the Israeli border that is home to the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). He was briefed by French Major General Alain Pellegrini, the UNIFIL commander.

The peacekeeping force is to expand from 2,000 to 15,000 troops, according to the UN cease-fire resolution that halted fighting between Israel and Hizballah earlier this month.

Arriving in Beirut on Monday, Annan called on Israel to lift its air and sea blockade of Lebanon. He urged Hizballah to release the two Israeli soldiers whose capture led to the 34-day war.

"I also renew my call for the abducted soldiers to be freed and, as a first step, to be transferred under the auspices of ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross], either to the government of Lebanon or to a third party and we, the UN, will be prepared to play a role if we are required to do so," Annan said.

Annan is due to leave for Israel later today before heading to Syria and Iran later in the week.

(Reuters, AFP, AP)

UN Peacekeepers

UN Peacekeepers
UN peacekeepers in Haiti in February 2006 (AFP)

MISSION In cases in which international intervention in regional conflicts is deemed necessary, peacekeeping missions authorized by the UN Security Council provide legitimacy by demonstrating the commitment of the international community to address such crises.

MANDATE UN peacekeeping missions are prepared, managed, and directed by the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The unique mandates of peacekeeping missions falls under the authority of the UN's Security Council and General Assembly, and under the command of the UN secretary-general.

MONEY Funding for UN peacekeeping missions is provided by UN member states. All are legally obliged to pay a share under an established formula. The leading financial providers as of 2006 were: the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada, Spain, China, and the Netherlands.

MORE All UN peacekeeping missions share the goals of alleviating human suffering and creating conditions for self-sustaining peace. Missions can consist of armed or unarmed military components, depending on their mandate, and various civilian tasks.

Military operations can include:
· Deploying to prevent the outbreak of conflict or the spillover of conflict across borders;
· Stabilizing conflict situations after a cease-fire in order to create an environment for the parties to reach a lasting peace agreement;
· Assisting in implementing comprehensive peace agreements;
· Leading states or territories through a transition to stable government, based on democratic principles, good governance, and economic development.

HISTORY There have been 60 peacekeeping operations since 1948. Fifteen peacekeeping missions were in operation in mid-2006, employing more than 60,000 troops, 7,000 police, and over 2,500 military observers. Peacekeeping operations in 2006 were supported by uniformed personnel provided by 109 countries.

(source: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations)


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