Cultural and culinary delights rivet Tyre
As the sun set, UNIFIL peacekeepers, local officials and residents of south Lebanon flocked to the public square by Tyre harbour for a rich display of food, folklore and a show of strength in diversity.
Cultural performances by Lebanese dancers and UNIFIL peacekeepers, and a ‘smorgasbord’ of Lebanese and international culinary treats met the hundreds of visitors – from toddlers to elderly women and men.
Seven of UNIFIL’s 42 troop-contributing countries participated in the 3 November “International Food and Culture Event,” organized by the Municipality of Tyre, in collaboration with the Sawt Al Farah Association.
Members of Italy’s Garibaldi Brigade music band set the tone with traditional furry hats and trumpets as they danced their way to the square, followed by folklore performances from UN peacekeepers from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal and the Republic of Korea. Local artistes capped the evening with performances of Lebanese and Palestinian dance, including the Dabkeh. Lebanese Armed Forces music band played the Lebanese and UN anthems.
Mouth-watering cuisines from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Italy, Nepal, Spain and Lebanon wrapped-up the colourful Saturday evening. In all, the event, first of its kind in south Lebanon, offered a perfect mix of cultural and culinary delights to bring people together.
Speaking earlier, Mayor of Tyre Hassan Dbouk extended a warm welcome to the audience, saying the City of Tyre will “always be embracing everyone."
UNIFIL’s Sector West Commander Brigadier General, Diodato Abagnara, said UNIFIL’s diversity, with 42 nationalities in its force, was “an added value and a force multiplier.”
“Lebanon, like UNIFIL, is another example of a multicultural society, where several religion(s) and cultures live together, peacefully and with mutual respect,” he told the gathering, which also saw in attendance Caretaker Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Inaya Ezzeddine, and UNIFIL Sector East Commander Brigadier General Jose Luis Sánchez.
“When I speak to my troops, I always tell them how we will go home enriched after our experience in Lebanon. We will return to our respective countries as better men and women, because we have had the chance to see different realities,” said Brig. Gen. Abagnara.
UNIFIL’s more than 10,500 peacekeepers work alongside local communities in furthering peace in south Lebanon. Between peacekeeping duties, they carry out various activities to further strengthen their excellent bond with the host communities.
Speaking about the Saturday event, UNIFIL’s Civil Affairs Officer involved in organizing it, Rola Bzeih, said: “The diverse mosaic of the UNIFIL peacekeepers united under one UNIFIL flag and one UNIFIL mission coming together with the local communities around culinary and arts is a dialogue of cultures between the people of south Lebanon and UNIFIL, and an opportunity where each learns more about the other.”