The daily work and efforts of peacekeepers to maintain calm and stability in south Lebanon over the past 45 years was the subject of a unique photography exhibition at Beit Beirut, the historical building and museum in the heart of the Lebanese capital.
Upon entering the exhibition space, visitors were introduced to the mission’s origins through a selection of mostly black and white images dating back 45 years to 1978, when UNIFIL was first established. The visual journey continued into the main space, showcasing recent photographs of UNIFIL’s daily activities in support of its mandate, including vehicle, foot and air patrols, observation posts, and naval patrols by UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force. UNIFIL conducts over 450 daily operational activities throughout its area of operations in south Lebanon, from the Litani River to the Blue Line – a line set by the United Nations in 2000 to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces.
Moving on through a passage lined with the 48 flags of UNIFIL’s current troop-contributing countries, visitors arrived in the second space of the exhibition. Here the photos provided an insight into the mission’s support to the people and local communities of south Lebanon, along with its work to clear landmines from farmers’ fields and other land close to the Blue Line. Since the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 in 2006, UNIFIL and its peacekeepers from different countries have been actively supporting local people with a myriad of projects aimed at improving lives, health, education and economic conditions.
Both exhibition spaces featured videos on TV screens that mirrored the themes depicted on the photographs, while further highlighting UNIFIL’s support and cooperation with its strategic partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces, including the mission’s Maritime Task Force’s work with the Lebanese Navy.
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Aroldo Lázaro opened the exhibition with an address to the guests in which he explained that the photos depict the work and individual tasks that peacekeepers perform on land, in the air and at sea in support of long-term peace.
He went on to add that “they also capture the humanity behind the work that we do. The humanity of the individual peacekeepers you see on a patrol, or finding and destroying a landmine, or interacting with the local community, or simply buying a snack in a local shop. They also display the people that we work among, whose futures we hope will be better because of our presence here.”
The photo exhibition only scratched the surface of the commitments and tireless efforts of UNIFIL peacekeepers in implementing their mandate over the past 45 years – and especially since 2006, which has resulted in the longest period of relative calm and stability for south Lebanon.