30 Years of ITALAIR Operations with UNIFIL, 27 July 2009
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today observed the 30th Anniversary of ITALAIR's operations as part of UNIFIL in the south of Lebanon.
At a ceremony held on the occasion at UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura, peacekeepers gave a guard of honour and received United Nations Peacekeeping medals. UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano, the Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Gabriele Checchia and Major-General Tommaso Ferro, Deputy Commander of Italian Joint Operational Headquarter, laid a wreath at the ITALAIR's monument to the fallen peacekeepers. Also in attendance were representatives of the Lebanese Armed Forces, local authorities, representatives from the diplomatic corps and former commanders of ITALAIR as well as family members of those ITALAIR personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty. The ceremony was concluded with a helicopter flight parade by ITALAIR.
As part of the celebrations to mark this historic occasion on Sunday 26 July, UNIFIL organized a concert by Soprano Rima Yawil, the Notre Dame University Choir and the "Fanfara dei Bersaglieri" of the Italian Army "Ariete" Brigade.
Major-General Claudio Graziano acknowledged the valuable contribution provided by ITALAIR to UNIFIL's mission. He added "In performing our mission, we are extremely determined not only because of our commitment to the fundamental principles of international peace and security enshrined in the UN Charter, but also because of the support we receive from the local population of southern Lebanon, who know that we are here for the sole purpose of ensuring security and stability."
ITALAIR has been part of UNIFIL since July 1979 serving the UN Mission with day and night air support. This has included medical evacuation, reconnaissance and observation flights, passengers and cargo transport, VIP transport, helipatrol as well as assistance to the Lebanese authorities in extinguishing fires in the country. The longest serving unit within UNIFIL, ITALAIR has more than 35,000 hours of flying time and transported more than 150,000 people aboard its helicopters.
As a joint unit ITALAIR has 64 personnel, including pilots and flight engineers, coming from all the military branches, Italian Air Force and Navy.
Since 1979, five ITALAIR peacekeepers lost their lives in the line of duty.
For further information, please contact
Andrea Tenenti UNIFIL Deputy Spokesperson
Public Information Office:
Tel.: +961 1 827 068 (office); +961 70 910 064 (cell);
Fax: +961 1 827 016; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org