Irish peacekeepers assist Red Cross with blood and cash donations
UNIFIL’s Irish peacekeepers turned their “medal parade” event last week in the south-western village of At Tiri into philanthropy with blood and monetary donations to the Lebanese Red Cross.
On the occasion of the 29 October event, which saw about 120 Irish peacekeepers receiving UN medals for their service in furthering peace in south Lebanon, nearly 100 peacekeepers donated blood to the Red Cross. Also among the donors were Polish, Maltese and Hungarian peacekeepers.
In addition, ahead of the event, the UNIFIL Irish peacekeepers had collected about US$ 7,000 through an online fund-raising campaign for the Red Cross, which will use both donations for the victims of the 4 August Beirut Port explosions.
As part of the fund raising, during the month of September, each of UNIFIL’s Irish-Polish Battalion (IRISHPOLBATT) personnel challenged themselves to complete five kilometres per day in a physical activity (run, walk, cycle, row etc.) completing 150 kilometers during the month. In the end, all those participating in the challenge ran 3,200 kilometres.
Funds were raised through a GoFundMe page, supported by family and friends back in Ireland. A part of the funds was also raised in their main base in At Tiri through other initiatives such as barbeques and raffles.
Since the Beirut explosions, this is the second blood donation event organized by UNIFIL’s IRISHPOLBATT. In late August, over 100 peacekeepers had donated blood to the Lebanese Red Cross.
Irish peacekeepers have a long and distinguished history with Lebanon, UNIFIL and the host communities. Ireland sent military observers to Lebanon in 1958 as part of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), while the first Irish battalion to UNIFIL was deployed soon after the establishment of the Mission in 1978. Irish peacekeepers served continuously until November 2001. In the aftermath of the 2006 war, south Lebanon saw a temporary return of the Irish peacekeepers with UNIFIL. In 2011 the Irish Government again responded to a request from the UN for troops to serve with UNIFIL with an infantry group that currently forms part of a joint Irish-Polish battalion. They currently serve on a six-month rotation.
Photos: Capt. Brian McIntyre / UNIFIL IRISHPOLBATT