UNIFIL Force Commander visits newly deployed Irish contingent, 08 July 2011
TIBNIN, Lebanon - UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas today visited the newly deployed Irish Battalion in south Lebanon at the start of their mission as part of UNIFIL.
|UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas meeting with Commanding Officer of the Irish Battalion, Lt.Col. Frank Bolger
Major-General Asarta said: "The contributions of Irish peacekeepers to UNIFIL go back to 1978, as old as UNIFIL. They have lost brave soldiers in the service of peace in this dear land. I am proud to have you here."
Major-General Asarta and the Commanding Officer of the Irish Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Bolger, reviewed an Honour Guard. Then they inspected the troops, equipment and the base, Camp Shamrock.
Major-General Asarta said: "The deployment of the Irish battalion brings to 35 the number of countries contributing to UNIFIL.
This is in itself a testament of the confidence the international community puts in this peacekeeping force and the world's continuous interest in providing all the required assistance to ensure that south Lebanon remains peaceful and stable."
Ireland was one of the first contributors to UNIFIL, providing troops since its onset. The troops were withdrawn in 2001 and returned in 2007-2008 before being withdrawn again. Irish officers, however, continued to serve at UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura.
"It is of vital importance that we work in close cooperation and coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces for the implementation of UNIFIL's mandate and to maintain peace and security in the south," said Lieutenant-Colonel Bolger.
|UNIFIL FC Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas visiting the newly deployed Irish Contingent (Honour Guard)
In one of their first acts, Irish peacekeepers on Wednesday 06 July remembered fallen comrades in a ceremony at Camp Shamrock. During the ceremony, a Mass was held, a bagpiper played somber music as officers laid a wreath and troops saluted at the memorial dedicated to the 47 Irish peacekeepers who died in the service of peace in south Lebanon.
With the Irish deployment, UNIFIL currently numbers about 12,100 troops from 35 countries and about 1,000 civilian national and international staff members.