On Peacekeepers’ Day, UNIFIL head recommits resolve to work for lasting peace in south Lebanon
UNIFIL today marked the International Day of UN Peacekeepers at its headquarters in Naqoura, with the Mission’s chief recommitting the resolve to work towards a lasting peace in south Lebanon and along the Blue Line.
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col also paid tribute to more than one million UN peacekeepers who have served since the first UN mission was deployed in 1948, and over 3,800 peacekeepers including more than 300 in UNIFIL, who paid the ultimate price serving for peace.
“Working together in partnership, we make peacekeeping more effective for the people we strive to protect,” he told the gathering of local and religious authorities, representatives of the Lebanese Armed Forces and other security bodies and fellow peacekeepers. “Together with the parties to the cessation of hostilities, each member of UNIFIL family strives to achieve the goals mandated by the resolution 1701.”
Major General Del Col highlighted the progress on the ground, demonstrated by the nearly 13 years of stability in south Lebanon.
“After many decades, this year south Lebanon sees the first generation of teenagers who are growing up without witnessing any conflict,” he added. “Working with the youth is the best investments in the future for people locally and globally.”
This year’s global theme for the observance – “Protecting Civilians - Protecting Peace” – lies at the heart of UNIFIL’s daily work, he said, adding that protecting civilians means also empowering local communities.
Major General Del Col listed three broad areas of UNIFIL’s work through which protection of civilians in UNIFIL has been institutionalized in the Mission’s daily work: liaison and coordination arrangements that are key to de-escalating tensions and address contentious issues; round-the-clock operational activities on land, air and at sea; support to the Government of Lebanon in fulfilling its responsibility to protect civilians.
In 2002, the UN General Assembly designated 29 May as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers to pay tribute to all military and civilian peacekeepers working under the UN flag, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.
This is the date when in 1948 the first UN peacekeeping mission, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), began operations in Palestine. UNIFIL currently has more than 50 observers from UNTSO working under the name Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) in support of UNIFIL’s mandate.