UNIFIL celebrates 36 years of its presence in southern Lebanon
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today held a ceremony to mark 36 years of its presence in southern Lebanon.
The ceremony, held at Mission Headquarters in Naqoura, was attended by representatives of Lebanese authorities including local mayors and community leaders, the Lebanese Armed Forces, security agencies, religious leaders, members of the international community as well as UNIFIL personnel.
The Officer-in-Charge of UNIFIL, Mr. Karen Tchalian and Brigadier-General Mohamed Janbay representing the LAF Commander, laid wreaths at the UNIFIL cenotaph in tribute to UNIFIL personnel who had lost their lives in the service of peace since 1978.
In his address, Mr. Tchalian said: "Today, more than ever, UNIFIL is recognized as a force for the stability of the entire region. In spite of so much surrounding conflict, instability and uncertainty, the situation in our area of operations has remained calm. Thanks to the great work of our military and civilian personnel and the effective cooperation with the LAF, we have so far been successful in maintaining the cessation of hostilities between the parties and promoting respect for the Blue Line."
The Officer-in-Charge of of UNIFIL reaffirmed the Mission's commitment to work in close coordination with the LAF: "I wish to convey a special word of appreciation to colleagues of the LAF, who – in spite of demands on their assistance elsewhere in the country - continue to be an excellent partner for UNIFIL. Their professionalism, courage and dedication make their country proud."
Mr. Tchalian added: "International support to LAF is critical to the implementation of resolution 1701. In this regard, I welcome the commitment of the international community to support Lebanon and to assist the development of LAF capabilities, through the efforts of the International Support Group and the Strategic Dialogue."
Within the framework of the celebrations, UNIFIL held two concerts titled "Music for Friendship" and donated technical equipment to the Meiss El Jabal Social Development Center, the Borj el Molouk Orphanage and Frun Al Nour School for children with special needs. The donation of laptops, projectors, photocopying machines, UPS, monitors and sound systems will enable the centres to enhance their education and training capabilities.
The project was organized under the patronage of the Italian Embassy in Lebanon and with the support of the Italian Cooperation and Italian Cultural Institute along with UNIFIL military contingents from Austria, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea and Spain.
UNIFIL was created by UN Security Council resolutions 425 and 426 of 19 March 1978, to confirm the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area.
Following the July/August 2006 conflict, the Security Council, by its resolution 1701, significantly enhanced UNIFIL's mandate and capacity and assigned it additional tasks working closely with the LAF in southern Lebanon.
Today, UNIFIL comprises over 10,000 troops from 37 countries and over 1,000 civilian national and international staff.
Officer-in-Charge of UNIFIL, Mr. Karen Tchalian speech