As United Nations troops continue to patrol the peace-keeping buffer zone in South Lebanon, there is growing demand that the Israelis should withdraw their forces from the area.
As United Nations troops continue to patrol the peace-keeping buffer zone in South Lebanon, there is growing demand that the Israelis should withdraw their forces from the area. Two senior United Nations officers -- Lieutenant-General Ensio Siilasvuo and Major-General Emmanuel Erskine -- visited the country on Wednesday (5 April) to review the role of the United Nations Interim Force. General Siilasvuo spent the day in discussions with the Lebanese Foreign Minister in Beirut, while General Erskine visited troops in the peace-keeping zone.
SYNOPSIS: As Lebanese refugees continue to return to the homes they left several weeks ago, when Israeli troops invaded southern Lebanon, U.N. troops keep a wary look-out for Palestinians trying to cross through their lines. Most of the United Nations troops in the country have been assigned to patrol a 60-mile (100 kms) zone along the Litani river, under orders to prevent any Palestinian infiltration.
Despite the recent United Nations Security Council Resolution calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the country, many are still operating in the south.
General Siilasvuo -- the chief coordinator of United Nations peace-keeping missions in the Middle East -- visited the Lebanese Foreign Ministry to discuss the United Nations' operation in the south. He later told reporters he had talked with Foreign Minister Fuad Butros about bringing Lebanese internal security men into the buffer zone. Plans for the Israelis' withdrawal have not been finalised.
Latest figures say there are 1,500 United Nations troops in the south, a total expected to double within the next week. Some troops have already seen action when their positions came under fire from Palestinians still in the area. General Erskine, the commander of the U.N. interim force, has been visiting his troops to explain the true function of their presence. He told newsmen what this was.