Head of UN Peace Operations concludes visit to UNIFIL
The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, concluded a four-day visit to Lebanon today. After meeting Lebanese officials in Beirut, he travelled to UNIFIL headquarters, where he joined a patrol on the Blue Line and met with military and civilian peacekeepers.
“I appreciate Lebanon’s reiterated support to UNIFIL,” said Mr. Lacroix. “The mission plays a critical role in maintaining calm along the Blue Line, and I salute the women and men of UNIFIL who accomplish this important work daily.”
During meetings on Thursday with Lebanese political leaders and security officials, the UN peacekeeping chief stressed the importance of maintaining existing calm along the 120-kilometre Blue Line to a lasting peace in the region. He also underlined the importance of ensuring UNIFIL’s freedom of movement within its area of operations, which allows it to carry out its work independently and impartially.
He met caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati, Speaker Nabih Berri, caretaker Defense Minister Maurice Sleem, caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, LAF Commander General Joseph Aoun, and Director General of Lebanese General Security Major General Abbas Ibrahim.
On Friday, the Under-Secretary General presided over UNIFIL’s donation of 35,000 litres of fuel to the Lebanese Armed Forces at the mission’s Naqoura headquarters. This is part of the temporary and special support requested by the Security Council in Resolution 2650 (2022). He later met with military and civilian peacekeepers and received briefings on UNIFIL’s activities.
“Part of UNIFIL’s mandate is to support the Lebanese authorities and help strengthen their capacities in the south, so that they can eventually exercise full control over the territory,” said Mr. Lacroix. “I was pleased to see first-hand how UNIFIL peacekeepers are working closely and effectively with the Lebanese Armed Forces to preserve stability along the Blue Line.”
On Saturday, he joined a patrol of the Blue Line with Ghanaian peacekeepers and Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers. He later visited the headquarters of the Ghanaian battalion, where he inspected new accommodations to support the deployment of women in peacekeeping, funded by the Elsie Initiative. He then visited Camp Shamrock, the headquarters of UNIFIL’s Irish contingent, where he met with the women and men of the Irish contingent and expressed his condolences for the tragic loss of Private Seán Rooney, who was killed in Al-Aqbieh on 14 December 2022, and called for the perpetrators to held accountable.
With about 10,000 military peacekeepers from 48 countries and over 800 civilian staff, UNIFIL works to maintain peace and security in south Lebanon. It is mandated to support the Lebanese Armed Forces and help enhance their capacities. Since October 2006, the Mission’s Maritime Task Force has also assisted the Lebanese Navy in securing the country’s territorial waters and raising its capabilities.
The Under-Secretary General’s visit to UNIFIL was part of a wider visit to three peacekeeping missions in the Middle East, including the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)