With Serbian peacekeepers in the south of Lebanon
Currently, 143 members of the Armed Forces of Serbia are deployed in the UNIFIL Mission on Lebanon. Their task is to watch, monitor and maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon and to normalize living conditions, which is to conduct projects of civilian-military cooperation and to provide medical aid to local residents.
Serbian peacekeepers are deployed within the Spanish contingent at “East” sector. They are in UN 7-2 and 9-66 bases, with great living and work conditions. Assessing the cooperation with members of the Serbian military, Commander of the Spanish Battalion Carlos Mendosa said that the Serbian peacekeepers are reliable partners in conducting the mandate of the peacekeeping mission, that they are trained up to the highest standards and capable of performing the most difficult tasks. This is why they have the respect of Spanish soldiers, members of other contingents at “East” sector and the local residents.
Major Stevan Stefanovic, Commander of the National Contingent of the Armed Forces of Serbia at the multinational operation in Lebanon, also stressed the good cooperation with peacekeepers from other states, which enables for the mission’s task to be conducted successfully. Members of the Armed Forces of Serbia are deployed in staff duties in the mission command in the city En Nakura, at the command of the sector “East” in intelligence, operative, logistic and positions of civilian-military cooperation, and at the command of the Spanish Battalion. The infantry company in this rotation comes from the 21st Infantry Battalion of the Second Army Brigade and contains 130 members. At the recently held ceremony at the UN base 9-66, Commander of the sector “East” Brigadier General Andres Capa Huidobro presented medals to the members of the Serbian contingent, stressing that he was “honored to have the opportunity to present the UN medals to such good soldiers as the members of the Armed Forces of Serbia”.
According to Major Stefanovic, there is a possibility that a number of Serbian peacekeepers in Lebanon might be increased by additional deployments within the Italian contingent at the “West” sector.
The main task of the SAF infantry company, as Commander Major Goran Roganovic stressed, is organizing and conducting motorized patrols in combat and terrain vehicles. This is when they supervise the security situation along the Blue Line that divides Israel and Lebanon, where incidents occasionally occur, but, as Roganovic said, there have not been any more serious ones. The second important task is providing daily medical help in nearby villages, for which the townspeople are very grateful. Since May this year, the company has been in Lebanon, and its peacekeeping mission ends in late November.
In the conversation during the visit, our peacekeepers in the south of Lebanon stressed that they have very good lodging and food at the bases, that they contact their families in Serbia regularly thanks to a fast internet connection, and that they follow our TV programs over satellites. As they said, all this makes it easier for them to conduct their task in the mission with such good results, and they are especially proud of their remarkable relations with local residents. Better mutual understanding is also alleviated by an Orthodox church in the south of Lebanon which gathers a substantial number of religious people, and, on Sundays, they are often together at the sermon in the nearby village Deirmimas. An Orthodox monastery is also there; it was demolished during the war with Israel in 2006, but now it has been reconstructed and it serves its Orthodox mission, as successfully as the Serbian peacekeepers maintain peace in the south of Lebanon.
The UNIFIL Mission has been established by the resolutions of the UN Security Council – number 425 and 426 from 1978 and 1701 from 2006. SAF members began their deployment in the UNIFIL in 2010, within the Spanish contingent, with five staff officers at the command of the “East” sector and one staff officers at the command of the Spanish Battalion. In late 2012, another 36 members of the infantry company and five members of the national support element were deployed, and in March 2013, other two staff officers were deployed in the mission command. In November 2013, the first infantry company was referred to UNIFIL, from the formation of the 31st Infantry Battalion from Zajecar and 39th Logistics Battalion of the Third Brigade from Nis, and the second one was referred in May this year. In late November, a new rotation of the largest SAF unit deployed in multinational operations will take place.