UNIFIL head meets leaders from southeastern Lebanon
The Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Michael Beary today met with the local authorities and religious leaders based in the eastern sector of the UNIFIL area of operations at the Sector headquarters in Marjayoun, south Lebanon.
Since taking charge of the UN peacekeeping mission in July, Major-General Beary has been meeting with Lebanese leaders, both in Beirut and in southern Lebanon, to convey his deep appreciation for their unwavering support to the Mission and to discuss issues of mutual concern.
In addressing the local dignitaries, Major-General Beary emphasized the importance of the stability prevailing in the area since 2006: “An entire generation of children have grown up here in South Lebanon without knowing the fear of war. As local leaders, you along with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the government deserve credit for achieving this calm, which I believe, is a reflection of the will of the people you represent. I hope you agree with me, that this is a state of affairs we all wish to maintain.”
“A lot more remains to be done if we are to achieve a permanent peace,” said the UNIFIL head. “Let us therefore continue to work together to achieve peace and not allow unnecessary misunderstandings to occur, either on the Blue Line or between UNIFIL and the local population.”
UNIFIL Head of Mission emphasized the importance of working together to respect the spirit of Security Council resolution 1701, which forms the core of UNIFIL’s mandate.
He also sought to avoid any misunderstanding between UN peacekeepers and the local population. “Misunderstandings can lead to tension, and tension is what we must at all costs avoid if we are to maintain a calm environment,” he said.
Recalling his previous tours to South Lebanon as an Irish military officer in 1982, 1989 and 1994, Major General Beary said, “South Lebanon is almost unrecognizable from the place of my memory. The infrastructure, the economic developments, the educational opportunities, in some cases even the terrain and of course, most importantly, the security situation, have all changed beyond recognition."
During today’s meeting, the UNIFIL head also heard from more than 40 dignitaries, including the governor of Nabatyia, mayors and religious leaders from the country’s southeastern towns and villages. A similar meeting is planned to be hosted at the UNIFIL Sector West headquarters in the next days.