UNIFIL Commemorates International day of UN Peacekeepers, 27 May 2010

27 May 2010

UNIFIL Commemorates International day of UN Peacekeepers, 27 May 2010

Naqoura, Lebanon - The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today held a ceremony to commemorate the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers that is observed every year on 29 May. At UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura, peacekeepers representing 31 different national contingents of UNIFIL were joined by local authorities, officers of the Lebanese armed and security forces and diplomatic representatives.

This year's commemoration was especially sombre. The past 14 months have seen heavy loss of life of peacekeepers, with 96 killed in the Haiti earthquake alone.

UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas and Major-General Abed El-Rahman Shehaitly representing the Lebanese Armed Forces Commander laid wreaths at the UNIFIL Cenotaph in honour of the peacekeepers who lost their lives in the service of peace. Since the mission's establishment in 1978, there have been 286 fatalities of peacekeepers serving with UNIFIL.

"I think that this commemoration is also an appropriate occasion to reiterate our determination to make every effort to contribute to the achievement of peace and stability in southern Lebanon," Major-General Asarta said at the ceremony.

"Today as ever, we in UNIFIL remain firmly committed to the implementation of our mandated tasks, in support of the people of South Lebanon and in close cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces," he added.

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002 to pay tribute to all men and women serving in UN peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. The General Assembly designated 29 May as the Day, as it was the date in 1948 when the first UN peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), began operations in Palestine.

Today there are more than 124,000 peacekeepers, including 100,000 military and police personnel from 115 countries, serving in 16 operations on four continents. Of these approximately 12,000 military personnel along with about 1,000 civilians are serving with UNIFIL.

For further information, please contact the UNIFIL Public Information Office:
Spokesperson Neeraj Singh: +961 1 827 681; +961 70918500 (cell); email: singh60@un.org
or Deputy Spokesperson Andrea Tenenti: +961 1 827 068; +961 70910064 (cell); email: tenenti@un.org
Fax: +961 1 827 016
View the UNIFIL website: http://unifil.unmissions.org