UNIFIL Establishment Day – 35 years in the service of peace
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today held a ceremony at the mission headquarters to mark 35 years of its peacekeeping presence in southern Lebanon.
Representatives from the Lebanese armed and security forces, local mayors and community leaders attended the ceremony. Also in attendance were peacekeepers representing the 38 different national contingents that make up UNIFIL.
UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Paolo Serra and Brigadier-General Ghassan Salem, representing the Lebanese Armed Forces Commander, laid wreaths at the UNIFIL cenotaph to pay tribute to the 296 UNIFIL peacekeepers who have lost their lives in southern Lebanon since 1978.
In his address, Major-General Serra said: "The past seven years have been the calmest period southern Lebanon has seen in a long time. Against the background of regional instability and uncertainty, UNIFIL continues to be a force for stability, thanks to the great work of our military and civilian personnel, and the effective cooperation with our main strategic partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces."
Major-General Serra acknowledged that although a number of challenges to sustainable peace in South Lebanon remain, UNIFIL has so far been successful in implementing its mandate focused on maintaining the cessation of hostilities between the parties.
"In the period ahead UNIFIL will re-double its efforts in assisting the parties to solidify the cessation of hostilities and respect for Resolution 1701, working closely with the LAF, the government of Lebanon and Lebanese Institution towards our common objectives in southern Lebanon" the Force Commander said.
UNIFIL was created by the UN Security Council resolutions 425 and 426 of 19 March 1978, to confirm 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 Lebanese Armed Forces in Southern Lebanon.
Today, UNIFIL comprises almost 12,000 troops from 38 countries and it is supported by over 1,000 civilian national and international staff. This includes about 800 naval personnel of the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force deployed along the Lebanese coast.
UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Serra speech