UNIFIL today marked the 44th anniversary of the UN mission's establishment with its head and Force Commander, Major General Aroldo Lázaro, calling on the parties to make "meaningful steps" towards a sustainable peace.
Addressing a ceremony in the UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura, Major General Lázaro said while the end-goal of UN Security Council Resolution 1701is a permanent ceasefire and a sustainable peace, the efforts of the parties should be geared towards the same end-goal.
"That means courage. It means political will. It means mutual understanding and compromise, on both sides," he continued. "As we have done for the past 44 years, UNIFIL will continue to work to create the conditions for this to happen, together with government authorities, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), local leaders, and the people in the communities in which we live and work."
The UNIFIL head also paid tribute to thousands of peacekeepers who have served for the cause of peace in south Lebanon since 1978, and especially the 324 peacekeepers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace.
"Every day, each one of us honours their memories through our continued and unyielding efforts toward a permanent peace," he said. "These efforts have made a real and lasting difference."
On 19 March 1978, the UN Security Council established UNIFIL to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area.Following the 2006 war, the Council significantly enhanced UNIFIL's mandate and capacity and assigned it additional tasks working closely with the LAF in south Lebanon.
Today, UNIFIL has more than 10,000 military personnel from 46 countries, including the Maritime Task Force, the only naval force in UN peace operations - and some 900 civilian national and international staff.
At today's ceremony, a total of 41 peacekeepers were awarded UN medals for their service in furthering peace in south Lebanon.
Major General Aroldo Lázaro Speech