UNIFIL concludes heritage protection mission in Beirut
UNIFIL has concluded its month-long partnership with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Blue Shield International (BSI) in securing and protecting the cultural heritage properties damaged in the aftermath of 4 August Beirut explosions.
Speaking at a closing ceremony in Beirut on 28 October, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col said the peacekeeping mission’s work focused on clearing about 500 tons of rubbles as well as separating and storing about 150 tons of stones, facades and wood ornaments for future use.
“We proudly worked jointly with Blue Shield International and the Lebanese Armed Forces to protect damaged heritage sites from further devastation,” said the UNIFIL head. “In doing so, UNIFIL built on the past experience gained through civil-military cooperation with Blue Shield International, putting this into practice on the streets of Beirut.”
UNIFIL first partnered with BSI in April 2013 to better preserve cultural heritage in the Mission’s area of operations in south Lebanon.
During the ceremony organized by BSI, Major General Del Col said UNIFIL was honoured to have been part of “this common effort to ease some of the pain that the city has gone through” after the explosions.
He expressed hope that the UNIFIL peacekeepers who worked on the historical sites of Beirut gained some “invaluable experience,” which they will be carrying forward in their new assignments around the world.
At the end of the ceremony Mr. Karl von Habsburg, founder of the BSI and its President, Professor Peter Stone presented UNIFIL Head of Mission General Del Col, UNIFIL peacekeepers and LAF with awards and certificates for providing support in preserving heritage sites in Beirut.
On 27 October, UNIFIL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with BSI on enhancing cooperation on cultural property protection in the Mission’s area of operations in south Lebanon. The MoU also seeks to provide a platform for raising awareness on the importance of cultural property protection and enhance civil-military cooperation.
Separately, on 23 October, a UNIFIL detachment of multinational force returned from Beirut to the Mission’s area of operations after more than three weeks of engineering work in the Port of Beirut and surrounding areas. Nearly 150 peacekeepers from 13 of UNIFIL’s 45 contingents facilitated the resumption of operations at the Port by clearing 11,500 tons of debris and carried out construction works. In the process, they also dismantled four of the damaged warehouses.