First Armenian Peacekeeping Mission Arrives in Lebanon


 

BEIRUT (The Daily Star) — The first Armenian peacekeeping contingent has arrived in Lebanon as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mission along the southern region bordering Israel.

The Armenian Embassy in Lebanon told The Daily Star this week that the 32-strong contingent departed Wednesday night from Armenia and that the unit was the first to serve in Lebanon.

While Armenia has been part of several UN peacekeeping forces since 2004, the country has long opposed sending troops to Lebanon, over concerns for the large Armenian community in Lebanon.

The issue was broached during Armenian President Serge Sargisian’s visit to Lebanon in 2012, and Armenia has had an observer in UNIFIL in preparation for the contingent’s arrival.

According to Arka News Agency, the Armenian Parliament ratified a technical agreement of cooperation signed by the Italian and Armenian Defense ministries that would allow Armenia to contribute troops to the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, deployed as per UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

The agency said the Armenian peacekeepers would be deployed in three southern villages, rotated every six months. The contingent would be “ensuring respect for the safety of the UN staff,” Arka reported.

There are approximately 100,000 Armenians in Lebanon, concentrated mainly in the capital’s suburbs.