UNIFIL head walks with local dignitaries in weekly market in Bint Jbeil

Flanked by local dignitories UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander starts a market walk in Bint Jbeil.

In the Bint Jbeil library the UNIFIL chief admires some local paintings.

A Bint Jbeil market trader stands with UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, his wife Mrs Maureen Beary, and local dignitaries.

Mrs Maureen Beary, the wife of the head of UNIFIL, pauses to meet a Bint Jbeil market trader selling herbs and food products.

A young Bint Jbeil resident takes a selfie with Brigadier General Ugo Cillo, UNIFIL’s Sector West Commander, and Major General  Michael Beary, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander.

 In the Bint Jbeil library the group of dignitaries take a photo with a young budding artist.

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25 Apr 2017

UNIFIL head walks with local dignitaries in weekly market in Bint Jbeil

Local farmers and traders had just started to assemble and set up stalls along the main street of Bint Jbeil when UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary, accompanied by local dignitaries, strolled in to the weekly market. 

The unlikely guests, which also included UNIFIL’s Sector West Commander Brigadier General Ugo Cillo, had recently come to see the market, buy local products and meet some of the traders and shoppers.

Major General Beary was the first customer of handicrafts seller Mohamad Ftouni.

“He liked the sword of Imam Ali, glory be to God; it suits him well,” said Mr. Ftouni, the father of four, who has been in the business during the last decade of peace and stability in south Lebanon. “We were thrilled and surprised by his visit.”

Mr. Ftouni is one of hundreds of local farmers and traders setting up their stalls with a wide range of goods – from vegetables to handicrafts – on sale along the sidewalks of the street. The local municipality organizes this market in Bint Jbeil every Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

After touring the market and buying a number of items, Major General Beary, who was also joined by his wife Maureen, commented that he had “a very special experience.”

“For me, to receive such a welcome here and to be with the leading dignitaries of Bint Jbeil town and to see how lively and vibrant the place is in this time of peace and of course that’s what we all want to preserve,” said the UNIFIL head. “I think it’s just all a very good way to make sure that UNIFIL is here to help the community; we are not here to be out of harmony with the general routine of south Lebanon and we want to be very much in tune with the harmony and routine of south Lebanon.”

UNIFIL peacekeepers – from both the sectors in the east and the west, and the Force Commander’s Reserve – visit such markets across the Mission’s area of operations in south Lebanon almost daily. In all, they carry out about 50 so called “market walks” every week. 

After touring the market with the UNIFIL Force Commander, the President of the Union of Municipalities of Bint Jbeil, Atallah Sheayto, said the high-level visit reinforces the local authorities’ efforts to lift the local economy.

“Today, the efforts of the local authorities and the presence of UNIFIL contribute to the re-flourishing of markets and such a visit by the General is an opportunity for interaction (with the locals),” said Mr. Sheayto. He added that such interactions help address any possible “incongruities or misunderstandings” between UNIFIL and the host communities.

Mayor Afif Bazzi said that UNIFIL has “a very important mission” in the area to assure the resident that the UN is here to protect these communities.

Article: Tilak Pokharel 
Photos: Suzane Baderddine, Zeina Ezzeddine
Video Camera: Mohamad Hamze
Video Editor: Suzane Baderddine