Photo: Reuters

EU vows to help UN diffuse Israel-Lebanon tensions

The Chargée d’affaires of the European Union’s Delegation to Lebanon Julia Koch de Biolley visited the headquarters of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), where she highlighted Brussels’ support for the peacekeeping force of primarily European troops.

“The European Union stands by UNIFIL in its efforts to assist in defusing tensions between Lebanon and Israel and move towards a permanent ceasefire,” asserted Koch de Biolley, adding that “This can only happen through continued dialogue and confidence building.”

Moreover, the EU’s Chargée d’affaires stated that, “UNIFIL remains essential here. We continue to support all aspects of UNIFIL’s work. Its deployment alongside the Lebanese Armed Forces is crucial to maintaining stability in Lebanon and along the Lebanese shores.”

In response to the vote of confidence, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col sought to reassure the visiting European delegation that the troops from EU member states are performing critical duties.

“Please be assured that the peacekeepers from your countries – accounting for a third of the Mission’s more than 10,000 troops between ground and maritime forces – have been playing an extremely significant role in maintaining the cessation of hostilities, deescalating tension in the UNIFIL area of operations and preserving stability along the Blue Line,” said Maj.-Gen. Del Col.

“The work of your troops has reinforced the Mission’s strong operational tempo, which is demonstrated by the fact that the area has enjoyed an unprecedented 14 years of calm,” he said.

While the European delegation inspected the situation on the border with Israel, Lebanon itself is faced with violent domestic turmoil over deep-rooted corruption and economic strife. The local currency has lost more than 60% of its value since late last year, when the country plunged into a deep financial crisis that has pushed the government to seek help from the International Monetary Fund.