19 Mar 2020
UNIFIL today marked the 42nd anniversary of its establishment in 1978 amidst a modest ceremony in the Mission headquarters in Naqoura, south Lebanon.
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col chaired the ceremony, which saw a limited attendance as a precaution for preventing the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus, which has become a global pandemic.
“We gather today to reflect on the year gone by: to salute the effort of all UNIFIL personnel, to remember those peacekeepers who passed away on duty, and to recognize the commitment of the international community and the United Nations to the Lebanese state and its people,” said the UNIFIL head. “Despite the difficult situation we are facing (due to the COVID-19 outbreak), UNIFIL continues to carry out its operational activities 24/7.”
He commended the “exceptional service and hard work” of UNIFIL personnel in ensuring that the Mission continues to deliver on its mandate even under “the most trying circumstances.”
“Against the backdrop of continued turmoil in the Middle East, UNIFIL has maintained peace and stability in the south of Lebanon for 14 continuous years and its role continues to be of strategic significance,” he added.
In attendance at the ceremony were Brigadier General Roger Helou, representing the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and local authorities, among others. Major General Del Col and Brigadier General Roger Helou laid wreaths at the UNIFIL cenotaph paying tribute in memory of the UNIFIL peacekeepers who gave their lives in the cause of peace in south Lebanon.
In the wake of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, UNIFIL has put in place comprehensive precautionary measures in order to prevent infection among the Mission’s more than 11,000 military and civilian peacekeepers as well as protect the population it serves. There are no UNIFIL peacekeepers currently affected by this highly infectious virus.
In the 42 years of its deployment in south Lebanon, UNIFIL has lost more than 300 of its peacekeepers while serving for peace.
Today’s ceremony also saw UN medals awarded to UNIFIL peacekeepers.