UN entrusts Spain with command of its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon

News - 2022.2.5

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Spain will assume Force Command and Head of Mission of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for the second time, at a delicate moment for the stability and future of that country.

The official appointment of General Lázaro Sáenz as head of UNIFIL, replacing Italian General Stefano del Col, follows a demanding selection process and prior formal communication to the Security Council. He is expected to take office at the end of February.

The UNIFIL mission is the UN's instrument for securing peace on the Lebanese-Israeli border, facilitating humanitarian access to the civilian population, and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons. To this end, it supports the capabilities and modernisation of the Lebanese Armed Forces and their work south of the Litani River on the border with Israel.

The Spanish Armed Forces have been committed to this peacekeeping mission uninterruptedly since September 2006, when the United Nations asked Spain, France and Italy for a military contribution to renew UNIFIL's mandate, objectives and structure. Since the beginning of the mission, Spain has been responsible for the complicated Eastern sector, integrating under Spanish command countries as diverse as El Salvador, Serbia and Brazil.

With this appointment, the United Nations recognises the hard and special contribution Spain has made to the Mission in which 15 Spanish soldiers have died.

Military and mediator

The appointment of General Lázaro as Force Commander and Head of one of the most important missions of the United Nations reflects the confidence that the UN places in Spain and its Armed Forces, for its commitment to human security and its inclusive model, concerned with ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of the mission and which seeks to strengthen ties at the local level.

General Lazaro is very knowledgeable about Lebanon and the mission, where he has been deployed three times and has served as Commanding General of Sector East. His appointment at the head of UNIFIL will contribute to the added value that Spain can bring to international peace and security in an area that is essential for regional and global stability.

Of particular note in his career are his postings at the Headquarters of the Rapid Operational Euroforce (Florence), at the High Readiness Multinational Ground Headquarters (Valencia), the command of the Mechanised Brigade "Guzmán el Bueno" and the command of the Mechanised Infantry Regiment "La Reina" (Cordoba).

In addition to his three deployments to Lebanon, General Lazaro has participated on three other occasions in Peacekeeping Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina under United Nations (UNPROFOR), NATO (SFOR) and European Union (EUFOR) command, respectively.

He was promoted to Major General in 2020 and appointed Director of Army Personnel Assistance. His academic training includes Spanish and NATO Staff courses, the course on Civil-Military Cooperation, courses on Gender Advisor in Operations, Recovery and Stabilisation Strategies and Strategic Leadership in the Global Social Security Environment, as well as his participation as a speaker and student in numerous seminars and forums.

General Lazaro speaks English, French and Italian and holds several national and foreign military awards.

UNIFIL: 13,500 actions per month

More than 10,300 military personnel - Blue Helmets - from 46 countries and 800 civilians are currently participating in UNIFIL, deployed in the area delimited by the Litani River to the north and the "Blue Line" to the south, with 55 positions along the more than 1,000 square kilometres that comprise the area of operations.

UNIFIL is the only UN peacekeeping mission with a maritime component patrolling the Mediterranean waters along the Lebanese coast. To date, a total of 15 countries - including Spain - have participated in this naval force, comprising warships from five countries with around 850 troops. UNIFIL maintains a high level of activity in its area of operations, with around 13,500 actions per month, day and night.

Non official translation