UN chooses new leader for UNIFIL peacekeepers in Lebanon

Major General Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz has a “long and distinguished career in the Spanish army” and is currently an adviser to the Ministry of Defence, UNIFIL said.

UNIFIL was established in 1978 after Israel withdrew its troops from its neighbor [MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty-archive]

The UN has chosen a new chief for its peacekeepers serving in Lebanon, the body announced in a press release on Saturday.

Italian Major General Stefano Del Col “will soon complete his mission”, according to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who selected the new chief of peacekeeping forces, is “grateful” for Del Col’s “exemplary service and leadership”, the statement added.

His replacement, Major General Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz, has a “long and distinguished career in the Spanish military” and is currently an adviser to the Ministry of Defence, UNIFIL said.

Previously, he completed three tours of duty with UN peacekeepers in Lebanon and served three other peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He speaks Spanish, English, French and Italian.

UNIFIL was created in 1978 after Israel withdrew its troops from its neighbour.

Israel briefly invaded Lebanon that year and will do so again in 1982, occupying parts of the country’s south alongside the Lebanese militia fighters it supported before finally withdrawing in 2000.

UNIFIL performs several functions in a strip of southern Lebanon adjacent to Israel.

This includes facilitating the entry of humanitarian relief for civilians. The force is approximately 10,500 strong and is made up of peacekeepers from 45 countries.

The responsibilities of UN peacekeepers were expanded following Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon.

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