Ghana has increased its troops serving with the United Nations Mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from 650 to 850 soldiers.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered the peace after the 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah, requested member countries to raise the level of UN Peacekeepers in Southern Lebanon from less than 3,000 at the time to a maximum of 15,000 troops.
According to the Press and Information Officer of UNIFIL, Lt. Andy La-Anyane, the additional troops, who arrived at the Beirut International Airport on Monday afternoon, were met on arrival by the Consular General of Ghana to Lebanon, Mr Michel Haddad, the Commanding Officer of the Ghana troops in Southern Lebanon (Ghanbatt 65), Lt. Col. E.W. Kotia, and some Staff Officers.
At a reception for the troops, Mr Haddad welcomed the troops to Lebanon and advised them to continue to raise the flag of Ghana very high.
He reminded the troops that Ghana had carved for itself an enviable position in terms of peacekeeping across the world so they had to work very hard to sustain it.
Lt. Col. Kotia, for his part, updated them on the current security situation in Lebanon. He advised them to adhere strictly to all security measures that had been put in place by both the Battalion in particular and UNIFIL Headquarters in general.
Lt. Col. Kotia added that there were confirmed threats against UNIFIL personnel and installations by armed elements who had infiltrated the country.
He informed the incoming troops that patrols, both day and night, had been increased substantially to ensure that the armed elements did not freely operate in Southern Lebanon, especially in areas close to the Blue Line, which is the technical line that divides Israel and Lebanon.
Lt. Col. Kotia also advised the troops to exhibit a high standard of professionalism in their areas of responsibility and desist from doing things that could tarnish the hard-won reputation of the Ghana Armed Forces in particular and Ghana as a whole, especially at the time when a number of countries had contributed troops to UNIFIL.
Lt. La-Anyane said the troops were later conveyed to the Battalion Headquarters at Al Matmurah in Southern Lebanon, a few minutes drive from the UNIFIL Headquarters, where the Deputy Commanding Officer of UNIFIL Ghanbatt 65, Maj.
Charles Ayiku, who is also the Chief Operations Officer, gave them operational briefing before dispersing them to their various companies.
It would be recalled that UNIFIL Ghanbatt 65 arrived in Southern Lebanon in October 2006 under the Command of Lt. Col. E.W. Kotia after a six-week intensive training at the Bundase Training Camp near Accra.
The Battalion immediately launched into operational activities on their arrival, which coincided with the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which called for robust day and night patrols.
Lt. Andy La-Anyane said under the able leadership of the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Kotia, Ghanaian troops had dominated their area of responsibility to the admiration of not only the Force Commander, who recently commended them highly for their professionalism, but also Staff Officers at the UNIFIL Headquarters and the local populace.
Story by Michael Donkor