On the International Day of Peace, UNIFIL stands ready to help
Peacekeepers wearing uniforms from 49 different countries expressed their commitment to peace and stability as they marked the International Day of Peace in Naqoura, south Lebanon today.
Hosted by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) at its headquarters, the ceremony brought together Lebanese political representatives, including Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab; local authorities; religious leaders; the Lebanese Armed Forces; security forces; UN officials, including Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka; and members of the international community.
“As our name says, we are peacekeepers – we keep the peace, but we do not bestow it,” UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Aroldo Lázaro told the gathered crowd. “We keep the peace that the parties have each given space for, have each worked to maintain in their own ways. But whenever it is threatened, UNIFIL is there, ready to help.”
Major General Lázaro and Brigadier General Mounir Shehade, representing the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), laid wreaths at the cenotaph in memory of the over 300 UNIFIL peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving in south Lebanon since 1978.
The UNIFIL head emphasized the mission’s strong partnership with the Lebanese government and armed forces.
“We are here at the invitation of the Lebanese government, who have been our hosts for over forty-five years,” he said. “We coordinate closely with the Lebanese Armed Forces, conducting patrols with them and on our own, to help the government someday exercise its authority over the entirety of this beautiful country.”
He also stressed the importance of restraint and UNIFIL’s role in decreasing tensions.
“The danger of miscalculation remains, a danger that could jeopardize the cessation of hostilities and lead us to conflict,” he said. “It is important for the parties to bear this in mind, and to use our liaison and coordination mechanisms to deconflict situations and decrease tensions. The full implementation of UN Resolution 1701 remains a shared responsibility and the commitment of the parties is necessary to advance towards a long-term solution.”
During the ceremony, military staff officers were awarded with the UN Peacekeeping Medal in recognition of their participation in the mission’s work. As is customary, white doves were released at UNIFIL’s cenotaph to symbolize peace.
UNIFIL also launched a Telegram channel today as another platform for people to receive information about peacekeepers’ work in real time.
The International Day of Peace was established by the UN General Assembly in 1981. It is dedicated to ceasefire and non-violence and is an occasion during which all promote tolerance, justice, and human rights. Each year on this day, the United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a 24-hour cessation of hostilities and to commemorate the day through activities that promote peace