UNIFIL Pays Tribute to Military and Civilian Personnel on Peacekeepers’ Day

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon observed on Monday the International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers, paying tribute to thousands of military and civilian personnel for their service of peace, in a ceremony held at its Naqoura Headquarters in southern Lebanon.

UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major-General Luciano Portolano, underlined that for more than 70 years, since 1948 when the first Peacekeeping Mission was established “U.N. peacekeeping has been a dedicated and internationally recognized instrument aimed at supporting countries around the world in the difficult transition from conflict to peace.”

He stressed how during those years “conflicts have been changing in form and nature” and that “peacekeeping missions are [increasingly] deployed where there is little peace to keep.”

Portolano paid tribute to 3,400 peacekeepers “who have tragically lost their lives in the service of peace since 1948” and he used this occasion for paying tribute to “the five peacekeepers from Togo who lost their lives” on the 29 May 2016 “in the line of duty in Mali”.

He echoed the “Secretary General’s words in condemning in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against peacekeepers, women and men, military and civilians who are serving in the name of peace around the world.”

With particular reference to UNIFIL, Portolano paid tribute to “more than 300 military and civilian peacekeepers” who “have lost their lives while serving the cause of peace in southern Lebanon” since UNIFIL establishment in 1978.

“Those heroes, with many different background, all believed that peacekeeping is a global force for good,” he added.

“Let me honor the peacekeepers, civilian and military alike, who are currently serving in UNIFIL for your courage, commitment to the service of peace and the professionalism shown in your everyday work as well as in exceptional circumstances”, said Portolano at the ceremony.

Peacekeepers representing 40 national contingents in UNIFIL and civilian personnel were joined at the event by Brigadier General Charbel Abou Khalil, the representative of the Lebanese Army Commander, representatives of the security forces, governors, religious leaders and members of the international community.

In this contest, he expressed words of appreciation to the Lebanese army and security organizations, who are UNIFIL’s partners in the implementation of the Security Council Resolution 1701. He conveyed them his gratitude for their support by saying that that it is “indispensable for the success of the Mission”.

On the occasion, UNIFIL military staff officers were awarded with the UN Peacekeeping Medal.

The U.N. General Assembly designated 29 May as the International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers in February 2003 in order to pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication and courage of all the men and women serving in U.N. peacekeeping operations, and honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

The global theme of this year’s observances is “Honoring Our Heroes.”

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