The United Nations mission in Lebanon's chief Stefano Del Col on Friday paid special tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people directly impacted by the devastating blasts at Beirut's port on 4 August, UNIFIL said in a statement.
“At the outset, I pay my tribute to all those people who suffered, were injured and to those who died on the tragic 4 August 2020 explosions,” said Del Col before laying a wreath at monument commemorating the more than 200 Beirut blast victims, according to the statement.
Del Col also expressed appreciation for the peacekeepers involved during the Beirut mission, authorized by UN Security Council resolution 2539 as “temporary and special measures” to help Lebanon and its people in the aftermath of the explosions.
“You enabled the resumption of operations in the Beirut Harbour, cleared the main road in the Mar Mikhael neighbourhood, that had been blocked for over two months, and supported the works at historical sites,” he said.
"We are honoured to have been part of these common efforts to ease some of the pain that the city has been gone through,” Del Col added.
After more than three weeks of engineering work in Beirut in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces in the wake of the 4 August explosions, a UNIFIL detachment returned on Friday to the mission’s area of operations in south Lebanon.
Del Col emphasized that UNIFIL’s main focus continues to be ensuring stability in south Lebanon and along the Blue Line border demarcation with Israel.
Nearly 150 peacekeepers from 13 of UNIFIL’s 45 contingents facilitated the resumption of operations at the Beirut Port by clearing 11,500 tons of debris and carried out construction works. In the process, they also dismantled four of the damaged warehouses.
In addition, UNIFIL peacekeepers also assisted in the restoration of damaged heritage sites from further devastation by clearing 500 tons of rubble and separating and storing about 150 tonnes of stones, facades and wood ornaments for future use, said the statement. This activity was carried out in coordination with the LAF, the Lebanese Directorate of Antiquities and the Blue Shield International, the statement added.
Maj. Gen. Del Col emphasized that UNIFIL’s main focus continues to be ensuring stability in south Lebanon and along the Blue Line.
“We are working to create the conditions for political and diplomatic efforts to take root, to achieve a long-term solution and a permanent ceasefire, for which the commitment of the parties is an essential element,” he added.