Music, dance, magic and more: UNIFIL troops enthrall children of south Lebanon

UNIFIL Indonesian peacekeepers pose for a photograph with local children.

UNIFIL French peacekeepers paint the faces of young children at Sultaniyah's Spring Festival.

A fire breather captivates the crowd at Sultaniyah's Spring Festival.

UNIFIL Korean peacekeepers are perfectly synchronized in a martial arts performance.

UNIFIL Indonesian military band drum out rhythms at the event.

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18 May 2016

Music, dance, magic and more: UNIFIL troops enthrall children of south Lebanon

The sun was shining brightly in the sky and the nearby trees were starting to bear flowers. Multi-coloured balloons dangling from poles and ceilings drifted in the warm breeze. Spring has arrived in south Lebanon.

Last month more than 3,000 children, gathered in a stadium of the Education Liberation Complex in As Sultaniyah, were thrilled with anticipation because of what they were about to be part of.

Without any delay, peacekeeping troops from some 10 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe and serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) started their performances. These included gymnastics, taekwondo, music shows, cultural dances, face painting and magic demonstrations.

This is the fifth year in a row UNIFIL has participated in the annual “Children’s Spring Festival.” The five-hour long event was organized by ALPHA, a local organization working to promote children’s rights,” in collaboration with the Al Qalaa Union of Municipalities and supported by UNIFIL.

One of the participants of the April 2016 event, an eight-year-old girl, said, “Today we played with the peacekeepers and they treated us very well.”

“It is a 100 per cent day for children where UNIFIL battalions perform for the kids and make them happy,” said a UNIFIL Civil Affairs Officer, Rola Bzeih, as the Lebanese flags fluttered in the background. “It is a chance where we can contribute by bringing smiles to the faces of the children of the south.”

Ms. Bzeih added that the children of south Lebanon, where UNIFIL operates and has its 10,000 troops present, look forward to this event every year.

UNIFIL attaches great importance to relations with the local population among whom the peacekeepers operate. One of the facets of this relationship is participating in community events and ensuring normal daily lives within UNIFIL’s area of operations.

The President of ALPHA, Salma Fawwaz, said this kind of festival has been organized every year since 2006, the year when Lebanon was in a major war.

“This would not have been possible without your support,” said Ms. Fawwaz to the crowd of children and UNIFIL peacekeepers.

Article: Tilak Pokharel
Video Editor: Ghifar Charafeddine
Video Camera: Cpt Dont Pasaribu, 1st Sgt Herlambang Saputa, 1st Suparto, 1st Rosdiana
Photo: BC1 Jerome Jouhanneau