Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed Major General Paolo Serra of Italy as the new head of the United Nations mission in Lebanon.
As Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major General Serra will be at the helm of what is considered to be one of the most dangerous peacekeeping operations in the world.
The appointment came five days before the current UNIFIL force commander, Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas of Spain, was set to step down after a three-year tour.
The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to Major General Asarta Cuevas for his “excellent service and leadership.”
During his visit to the mission’s headquarters in Naqoura over a week ago, Mr. Ban emphasized the unique risk faced by UNIFIL, saying that while peacekeeping was always dangerous, it was “especially deadly in Lebanon.”
UNIFIL is responsible for helping foster stability in southern Lebanon. UNIFIL peacekeepers continued to provide humanitarian assistance to the local population, including medical, dental and veterinarian aid. UNIFIL has lost 293 personnel since the mission began in 1978.
Prior to his UNIFIL appointment, Serra commanded troops in multinational peace operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Mozambique.
UNIFIL was reinforced after the July-August 2006 fighting, with the added mandate to monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.