UNIFIL Commemorates International day of UN Peacekeepers
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today held a ceremony at its headquarters in Naqoura to mark this year's international peacekeepers day.
Peacekeepers representing the 37 national contingents in UNIFIL were joined by representatives of local authorities, officers of the Lebanese armed and security forces and the international community at the commemorative ceremony.
Acting Head of Mission and Force Commander Brigadier-General Patrick Phelan, and Brigadier-General Ghassan Salem, representing the Lebanese Armed Forces Commander laid wreaths at the UNIFIL cenotaph in memory of the peacekeepers who lost their lives in the service of peace, a reminder of the risks incurred by individuals who put their lives on the line when they deploy to UN missions around the world. A minute of silence was observed. There have been 297 fatalities of peacekeepers serving with UNIFIL since its establishment in 1978.
During the ceremony, 58 military staff officers were awarded with the UN Peacekeeping Medal.
Addressing the ceremony, Brig-Gen Patrick Phelan said that this was an occasion "to pay tribute to all men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations, for their high levels of professionalism, dedication and courage" and he added "I would also like to thank all of the national civilian staff in UNIFIL. You have consistently and loyally supported UNIFIL since 1978 with professionalism and efficiency; and at the same time you continue to so kindly afford us a generous insight into Lebanese culture and society."
"This year the focus of Peacekeepers Day is on how UN Peacekeeping is adapting to new challenges. Today the environments and Missions, in which we deploy and work to find solutions to conflict, are becoming more complex. International peace and security needs are changing rapidly. UN Peacekeeping missions are being given new mandates to meet these new challenges." Brig-Gen Patrick Phelan said.
Today's celebration also marks the 65th anniversary of the first peacekeeping operation authorized by the United Nations Security Council in 1948 - the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). Since then, 67 peacekeeping operations have been deployed by the UN. Currently there are nearly 80,000 military personnel, 12,500 police officers and 17,000 international civilian and national staff serving in 15 peacekeeping operations on four continents. To date, more than 3,100 United Nations military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace.
UNIFIL Deputy Force Commander Brigadier-General Patrick Phelan speech