UNIFIL naval peacekeepers rescue 37 stranded at sea

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14 Sep 2020

UNIFIL naval peacekeepers rescue 37 stranded at sea

This morning, a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maritime Task Force (MTF) ship located at sea outside Lebanese territorial waters a boat with 37 people inside. Unfortunately, one of them had already passed away. 

A second MTF ship deployed to recover the boat later found another survivor and rescued him as well.

The main priority for our peacekeepers was to rescue the survivors and ensure their safety by providing immediate assistance.

UNIFIL MTF immediately informed the Lebanese authorities.

The 36 people who were rescued in the morning and included 21 men, 10 women (one of them pregnant) and five children were immediately transferred to the Beirut Naval Base. One of the children was in critical condition.

To enable urgent further medical aid, especially for the child in critical condition, UNIFIL MTF proceeded to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Beirut Naval Base without delay. 

During the trip back to Beirut, the 36 individuals were provided with immediate assistance on board the UNIFIL MTF ship before being transferred to the Lebanese authorities.

Upon arrival outside the LAF Beirut Naval Base, they were transferred to a Lebanese Navy vessel and the child together with the mother were transferred to a hospital.

A second MTF ship, tasked to recover the distressed boat and tow it towards the LAF Beirut Naval Base, found another survivor at sea in unconscious condition who was subsequently rescued and provided first medical assistance on board. The MTF ship transferred the person to a Lebanese navy speed boat in the vicinity of the port of Beirut. 

By the end of the day, total of 37 individuals were rescued and received at the Naval Base by the Lebanese Red Cross and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), as well as the local authorities who are following up on this case.

UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col said: “This is a very tragic incident and our UNIFIL Maritime Task Force peacekeepers are doing their utmost to save the lives of these people. Our first priority is to ensure the safety of all the 37 people we have just rescued.”

The first Naval Force to be a part of a UN peacekeeping mission, the UNIFIL MTF has been deployed at the request of the Lebanese Government to assist the Lebanese Navy in securing the territorial waters and to help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms or related materiel by sea into Lebanon. In addition, the MTF has been working with the Lebanese Navy to strengthen the latter’s capabilities to secure its maritime borders and assume effective security control over Lebanese territorial waters.

UNIFIL Maritime Task Force has also taken part in humanitarian efforts in the past when called upon.

(This developing story was updated with new information.)