UNIFIL marked the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers and the 75th anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping today, alongside members of the Lebanese Armed Forces, security services, political and religious authorities, ambassadors, and UN officials.
Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Lázaro emphasized the important role of all of those represented at the event.
“We rely on our partners in government, civil society, religious orders, and communities to support us,” he told he assembled crowd. “And we rely on our strong relationship with the Lebanese Armed Forces and security agencies, with whom we work each and every day, the maintain the calm and stability necessary for the success of our mandate.”
Turning to the theme of this year’s International Day of UN Peacekeeping, “Peace Begins with Me,” Major General Lázaro noted that peace is not something that can be imposed from outside.
“As peacekeepers, our role is to create the space for a political solution between the parties to emerge,” Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Lázaro told the assembled crowd. “Our role is to reduce tensions and prevent the kind of physical conflict that would interfere with resolving the very real political disputes.”
During the ceremony, Major General Lázaro and Brigadier General Rodolph Haykal of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) laid wreaths in tribute to fallen peacekeepers. Over 4,000 UN peacekeepers have lost their lives on missions around the world since 1948, including more than 320 since UNIFIL was established in 1978. The UNIIFL head mourned the loss of Private Seán Rooney of Ireland, who was killed in an attack in December, as well as Corporal Pedro Serrano Arjona of Spain and Second Warrant Officer John Nartey Angmor of Ghana, who also passed away in service.
“Today, we remember their sacrifices, and the sacrifices of those we lost before,” said the UNIFIL head. “Every one of them matters Every one of them made a difference. We mourn them, but we celebrate their contributions, and we will never forget them.”
During the ceremony, guests also enjoyed a musical performance by children of the Foundation of Martyr Lieutenant Colonel Sobhi al-Akouri and the Italian military band Folgore.
In 2002, 29 May was designated as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers to pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication, and courage of the military and civilian peacekeepers serving in UN peacekeeping operations, and to remember those who lost their lives for the cause of peace. The date was chosen to commemorate the establishment of the first peacekeeping mission, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), whose more than 50 observers currently work with UNIFIL for peace and stability in south Lebanon.
Major General Aroldo Lázaro Speech