UNIFIL today observed the International Day of UN Peacekeepers at its headquarters in Naqoura, paying tribute to the contribution of uniformed and civilian personnel and to honour more than 3,900 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the United Nations flag world over since 1948.
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col led the ceremony and together with the newly appointed Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) South Litani Sector Commander Brigadier General Maroun Al-Qobayati (representing the LAF Commander), they laid wreaths at the UNIFIL cenotaph paying tribute to the memory of UNIFIL peacekeepers who have given their lives in the cause of peace in southern Lebanon.
“Since 1978, 318 UNIFIL peacekeepers have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of peace in the south of Lebanon. Today we honour them and confirm our resolve to work towards a lasting peace in this region,” UNIFIL Head Major General Del Col said in his remarks.
“This year, the challenges and threats faced by our peacekeepers are even greater than ever.” And he added: “Despite the risk of COVID-19, they are continuing their operations and supporting the governments and the local populations.”
He commended all UNIFIL personnel for their “exceptional service and hard work” in ensuring that the UN Mission continues to carry out its operational activities 24/7 and delivers on its mandate even under “these most trying of circumstances.”
This year, the United Nations Peacekeeper’s Day marks the 20th anniversary of adoption of the Security Council Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security” and commemorates the key role of women in peacekeeping.
“I would like to express my great pride for the immense contribution of female peacekeepers at UNIFIL,” said Major General Del Col.
During today’s ceremony, the UNIFIL Force Commander awarded – on behalf of the UN Peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix – Major Yun Xin of UNIFIL’s Chinese Contingent with the UN Certificate of Recognition for her work to integrate a gender perspective into the military functions of the Mission: “I am particularly pleased to recognize the achievements of Maj Xin today in her role in the area of demining, a vital component of operational effectiveness and protection of civilian,” he said.
Major General Del Col stressed: “UNIFIL has maintained peace and stability in the south of Lebanon for 14 continuous years and its role continues to be of strategic significance. UNIFIL works impartially and independently, along with the partners to the cessation of hostilities and our strategic partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces, towards fulfilment of the Security Council Resolution 1701 and associated resolutions. We are committed and continue to strive towards a vision of cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians and sustaining peace for this country.”
In December 2002, the UN General Assembly designated 29 May as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in order to pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication and courage of all the men and women serving in uniform and as civilians in UN peacekeeping operations, and honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. The global theme of this year’s observance is "Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace.”
The Day was chosen to commemorate the establishment of the first UN peacekeeping mission, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), whose more than 50 observers assist UNIFIL daily in carrying out its mandate.
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col’s speech