UNIFIL Establishment Day, 19 March 2012
Naqoura, Lebanon – The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today held a ceremony at the Mission headquarters to observe the 34th anniversary of its peacekeeping presence in southern Lebanon.
Peacekeepers representing the 37 different national contingents that make up UNIFIL participated in the ceremony. Attending were representatives from the Lebanese Armed and Security Forces, local authorities, community officials, as well as members of the international community.
UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Paolo Serra and Brigadier-General Ghassan Salem, representing the Lebanese Armed Forces Commander laid wreaths at the UNIFIL cenotaph in memory of fallen peacekeepers.
In a speech on the occasion, Major-General Serra noted that whereas UNIFIL has been able to successfully achieve some key mandated objectives, challenges remain. "In the period ahead, my focus will be to assist the parties to maintain and solidify the cessation of hostilities and respect for resolution 1701, to work closely with the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Government of Lebanon and relevant Lebanese institutions towards our common objectives and, to this end, mobilize joint efforts amongst the United Nations family to support initiatives within the scope of our mandate and area of operations," he said.
UNIFIL Force Commander expressed appreciation to the Lebanese Armed Forces who continue to be an excellent partner in the performance of the mission's duties. "UNIFIL remains committed to make progress on the strategic dialogue with a view to gradually enhancing the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces in the UNIFIL area of operations," he added.
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 war, the Security Council, by its resolution 1701 of 11 August 2006, enhanced the Force and assigned it additional tasks working in close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces in southern Lebanon.
UNIFIL currently comprises around 12,000 troops, supported by about 1,000 civilian international and local staff. This includes about 900 naval personnel of the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force deployed along the Lebanese coast.
Since 1978, 294 UNIFIL peacekeepers have lost their lives in the line of duty.