NNA - UNIFIL Head of Mission and Commander-in-Chief, Major General Stefano Del Col, told the National News Agency that "UNIFIL is installing cameras in some of its locations near the Blue Line, as part of the United Nations' general strategy to maintain the security and protection of UN personnel working in all peacekeeping missions in the world."
"As far as we are concerned, we only install cameras in certain UN locations near the Blue Line, because maintaining it is essential to ensuring stability in the region and preventing any incidents that might cause a wider conflict," he said.
"One of our main tasks under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is to monitor violations of the Blue Line in an independent and impartial manner, and we must be able to do so in any situation, even in crises in which peacekeepers and residents of the region may be at risk, similar to what happened in the past, and to prevent any escalation of tension," the UNIFIl Chief Commander asserted.
He stressed that "the safety of the Blue Line is key to ensuring stability in the region, by helping to prevent any incidents between the parties," adding,
"We are working with our strategic partners, the Lebanese Armed Forces, and we inform them, within the framework of the force's protection, of any situation that may occur along the Blue Line," reiterating that that they are here to "de-escalate any potential tension."
On the location of the cameras, the UNIFIL Chief explained that they would be placed inside UN sites near the Blue Line only, assuring that there will be no cameras in other parts of the area of operations or outside the UN sites, since the sole intention is to help peacekeepers monitor the Blue Line and improve security and the protection of the force.
Asked about the opposition of some residents of the region to this measure, Del Col said: "UNIFIL has a long history in the South, as it is here at the request of the Lebanese government, and our mandate is renewed in August every year. We are proud of the work we have done with the local communities to achieve security and stability in this region. Personally, I am proud that we have worked together for many years, despite challenges, to build strong and fruitful relationships with the people. Our relationship with the population and their trust in us are of prime importance to us. I regret the misunderstandings and misinformation that have undermined this confidence in recent days, but we are listening to our strategic partners, the Lebanese Armed Forces, because we are working closely together to maintain the stability of the situation."
The UNIFIL Commander-in-Chief concluded by indicating that before the Security Council endorsed the Secretary-General's recommendations, they consulted with the Lebanese Armed Forces, emphasizing that they would respect the privacy of the people who live and work near their sites. "We do not have any jurisdiction to monitor inside villages or private homes. We intend to continue engaging the local community to address their concerns cooperatively and productively, just as we have always done in the past," he said, reassuring that "these cameras will only be used as a measure to protect the force."
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