The Blue Helmets of the Italian contingent of UNIFIL, currently on a brigade basis Aosta, they have already started a program from Market Walk, that is a patrol on foot in the market places, inside the villages located in the area of operations of South Lebanon.
The activity consists in ensuring the presence and circulation of UN military personnel in the main streets of the villages, in the markets and in the major aggregation centers, in order to increase the perception of security for the population and bring the military component closer to the local communities. From the first experiences of Market Walk, the feedback from the population has been very positive, making the presence of the military, in general, appear differently.
The program of Market Walk is part of the activities of assistance to the Lebanese population, which is one of the main tasks established by the 1701 Resolution of the United Nations, together with the monitoring of the cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel and support for the Lebanese Armed Forces.
It is a fully operational activity that contributes, together with the so-called motorized and footed classic patrols, to guarantee presence and surveillance on the territory. Moreover, they allow an interpersonal relationship with the population, making it possible to obtain information and better understand its needs. To this, over time, the LAF (Lebanese Armed Forces) have been added, which, in addition to guaranteeing a suitable security framework for UNIFIL peacekeepers, has also allowed them to immerse themselves in the social fabric.
With the current mandate of the national contingent, we have recently moved on to the new concept of Pooled Market Walk which consists of a complex operational activity, conducted not only by soldiers engaged in the specific operational activity, but by a larger number of soldiers with different skills of engagement and interaction with the population, on more markets. This proved to be particularly effective among villages close to each other, allowing, therefore, a greater number of soldiers at the same time to interact with the local population to have a better and more in-depth evaluation of the freedom of maneuver in the area of operations , as well as increasing the perception of presence on the territory by the population.
Furthermore, in the course of these activities, purchases are made by the soldiers not only for personal well-being, but they are finalized purchases useful for the entire Contingent for its own activities, allowing to move the local micro economy which, especially in the less commercially developed rural areas, benefits. As far as relations with the population are concerned, another important element is the strong presence of female personnel among the military of the Pooled Market Walk which allows a greater possibility of reaching the most reluctant sections of the population to have contact with the military of UNIFIL, such as women, the elderly and children, allowing a better assessment of needs and requests by the local Authorities, in compliance also with what established by the Resolution 2433 / 2018 of the United Nations Security Council which provides for ensuring a significant participation of women in all aspects of operations, as well as increasing the number.