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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Belaboring the obvious: UN discovers Lebanese border is 'porous'

One reason for the porosity, is that the UN persuaded Israel to stop overflights of Lebanon, while at the same time UNIFIL did not institute any of its own.

Last update - 22:13 26/06/2007  

UN report: Lebanon-Syria border completely porous

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

Lebanon's border with Syria is open to smuggling of weapons and other goods, according to a special report submitted to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.

Border controls are insufficient even at official crossings, claimed the report that probed Lebanese entry points but did not inspect those on Syria's side of the border.

"As a result [of the lack of inspection] vehicles, including passengers and their cargo, pass freely," the report said.

The probe recommended improving cooperation between the two countries in order to curb smuggling of arms and other goods.

UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larson recently warned the Security Council of similar allegations.

The inquiry was carried out between May 27 and June 15 at four border crossings currently in operation, a point of entry set to open in the future, seaports and Beirut's airport.

Areas along the border where smuggling activity is suspected were also inspected.

During their investigation, UN inspectors met with four Lebanese security forces representatives.

Lebanese Army patrols along the border are ineffective, the probe concluded.

The investigation revealed that Lebanon's security forces lack training for carrying out anti-smuggling missions and its deployment is not aimed at stemming such activity.

"The lookout points and checkpoints are spread out according to traditional military doctrine and their aim is to provide territorial defense, not check smuggling," the report read.

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