NNA – The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today observed the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in a ceremony held at its Naqoura headquarters in southern Lebanon.
Peacekeepers representing the 39 national contingents in UNIFIL were joined at the event by representatives of the local authorities, Lebanese Armed Forces, Security Forces and members of the international community. The President of the Lebanese High Judicial Council, Mr. Jean Fahed, and other members of the Judiciary were also present.
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major-General Luciano Portolano, reviewed an honour guard and, together with Brigadier-General Mohamed Janbay, representing the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander, laid wreaths at the cenotaph in memory of the 308 UNIFIL peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the line of duty in South Lebanon.
Addressing the ceremony, Maj-Gen Portlano said: “Peacekeepers are called to serve in increasingly insecure areas, with a very complex mandate, to protect the most vulnerable. This should remind us of the many dangers of peacekeeping and of the courage of the individuals who serve in the peacekeeping missions around the world. Please be assured that your work is a source of pride for the UN every day.”
Major-General Luciano Portolano expressed deep appreciation to the Lebanese Armed Forces and security organizations, “Their strategic partnership is key to UNIFIL’s success in the implementation of resolution 1701. I remain firmly committed to coordinating our operational activities on the ground and at sea with them.”
He also conveyed profound gratitude to the Lebanese authorities, religious and political, and to the people of south Lebanon for their enduring support to UNIFIL; for their cooperation and sense of hospitality; for their appreciation for UNIFIL’s presence and support.
Maj-Gen Portolano said: “UNIFIL is a traditional peacekeeping mission with integrated military and civilian components working with perfect synergy. Our combined efforts in close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces have ensured a long period of stability.”
On the occasion, UNIFIL military staff officers were awarded with the UN Peacekeeping Medal.
A photo exhibition of UNIFIL activities since its formation in 1978 was mounted to showcase the work done by the peacekeepers on land and at sea.
The International Day of UN Peacekeepers is observed globally to honour the memory of the UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. It also aims to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN Peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage.
This year’s Peacekeepers’ Day falls during the significant 70th anniversary of the United Nations (UN70) dedicated to the theme ‘UN70 and UN Peacekeeping: Past, Present, and Future’.