Memorial ceremony in Beirut to pay respects to fallen Nepalese peacekeeper

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22 May 2021

Memorial ceremony in Beirut to pay respects to fallen Nepalese peacekeeper

UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col today led a memorial ceremony in Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut, paying tribute to a Nepalese peacekeeper who recently died while serving for peace in south Lebanon.  

The UNIFIL head extended deepest condolences to the family and friends of non-combatant enrolled (NCE) member of the Nepali Army Pitambar Thapa, 36, who passed away on 4 May 2021 following a cardiac arrest. After the ceremony in Beirut, his body was flown to Nepal.

“The UNIFIL community is saddened by the unfortunate loss and we would like to express our heart-felt gratitude to his family and his country, for giving us the privilege to serve with him, and for their valuable contribution to our joint effort,” Major General Del Col told the ceremony, attended by fellow UNIFIL peacekeepers, Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) personnel and the Honorary Consul General of Nepal to Lebanon, Mr. El Sheikh Mohamed Ghouzayel.

He also hailed Nepal’s “enormous” contribution to global peace, by participating in UN peace operations for over half a century.  

One of the first troop contributors to UNIFIL since the Mission’s establishment in 1978, Nepal currently has more than 870 peacekeepers serving in south Lebanon. To date, over 50,000 Nepali peacekeepers have served in UNIFIL, while 31 of them have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of peace.  

“As we persevere on our commitment to maintain calm and stability in the region, I would like to invite everyone to keep working with renewed determination, loyalty and enthusiasm, shaping the essential path to lasting peace for Lebanon,” said Major General Del Col. “We owe it to ourselves, to our fallen comrades in arms and to Pitambar.”

On the occasion, the UNIFIL Force Commander and LAF Commander General Joseph Aoun’s representative, Brigadier General Nahi Jobran, posthumously awarded NCE Thapa with UN and LAF medals for his dedicated service for peace and stability in south Lebanon.

NCE Thapa, who hails from the middle hills of Nepal and arrived in south Lebanon on 28 January 2021, was a heavy vehicle operator with the Nepalese Contingent. He is survived by his wife, mother and daughter.

Nepalese Battalion (NEPBATT) Commander Lt. Col. Rajib Thapa, who used to play badminton with the deceased, remembers NCE Thapa “as one of the most cheerful and decent peacekeepers.”  

He said NCE Thapa was a “great asset” to the Nepalese Contingent as well as UNIFIL, and his untimely demise was “an irreparable loss.”

“He was the most prominent badminton player of NEPBATT and will always be missed in the badminton court,” said Lt. Col. Thapa. 

(UN Photos / Warrant Officer Ramesh Karki)