An Italian peacekeeper conducts a medical examination at a UNIFIL clinic in Batoulay. (The Daily Star/UNIFIL, HO)
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The cold air hangs over U.N. position 4-31, a maze of concrete barriers, sandbagged bunkers and metal troop quarters that sits well above the tree line in the mountains near Kfar Shuba in Lebanon's deep south.In place since 1978, the force consists of soldiers from over 40 nations, though the Indian Battalion (referred to as INDBATT by the troops) operates in some of the most remote and contested sectors of the line.The demarcation around the base is entirely unfenced.This prolonged period of peace has led some to question exactly what UNIFIL does in its area of operation and why, after almost 40 years of existence, the force is still there.According to UNIFIL soldiers, as well as leaders and residents in the south, the answer lies in relationships that U.N. troops have built with communities and the crucial military role they still play in the region. Nevertheless, most soldiers and officers with both Italian and Indian contingents emphasize their relationships with locals as the highlight of their work in Lebanon.For Lt. Evangelisti, this is the core of his work.
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