UNIFIL marks International Day of Peace
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) held on 21 September 2015 a ceremony to commemorate the International Day of Peace at its headquarters in Naqoura.
Peacekeepers representing the 39 national contingents in UNIFIL were joined at the event by representatives of the local authorities, religious leaders, Lebanese armed and security forces and members of the international community.
The ceremony was observed under this year's global theme "Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All," which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society to work together to strive for peace.
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major-General Luciano Portolano, reviewed an Honour Guard and, together with Brigadier General Francois Chahine, representing the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander, laid wreaths at the cenotaph in memory of the over 300 UNIFIL peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the line of duty in South Lebanon.
Addressing the ceremony, Major-General Luciano Portolano said:" Today, we stand together as one, in the true spirit of "partnerships for peace, dignity for all". I am proud to see representatives of all our partners who have been working side by side with UNIFIL in order to achieve peace and stability. By joining us here in Naqoura you have shown that together we have one common goal. I wish to express my profound gratitude to all UNIFIL peacekeepers, the Lebanese Armed Forces, security organizations, religious, local and political authorities and the people of southern Lebanon. Their cooperation is key to supporting UNIFIL in the implementation of its mandate and in advancing the cause of peace."
During the ceremony, 32 UNIFIL staff officers were awarded with the UN Peacekeeping Medal.
Later on in the afternoon, as part of the event, UNIFIL Head of Mission Major-General Portolano together with Lebanese students joined celebrations at UN Headquarters in New York via videoconference. Present at the ceremony at UNHQ were the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Messengers of Peace, senior UN officials as well as students from different part of the world.
UNIFIL was the only UN Peacekeeping Mission selected to participate in this significant global event where Lebanese students from Tyr together with performers from the "Tyros for the Arts" association had a live interaction with about 700 high school and university students in New York as well as with Messengers of Peace such as Academy Award-winning actor Michael Douglas, anthropologist Jane Goodall, Jazz musician Herbie Hancock and renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
A Tae-kwon Do demonstration was performed at both locations — in Lebanon by peacekeepers from the Korean battalion and in New York by a group of students.
This was followed by a theatre performance by Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian students from the "Tyros for the Arts" association.
The International Day of UN Peacekeepers is observed globally on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Luciano Portolano speech