Beirut: UNIFIL naval peacekeepers remain committed within disaster

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UNIFIL sito

BEIRUT, AUGUST 8 – The huge explosion that rocked Beirut port on Tuesday evening 4 August resulted in several naval peacekeepers from Bangladesh being injured, some of them seriously. The ship was docked at the port as part of the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force. UNIFIL is currently assessing the situation, including the scale of the impact on its personnel. An Italian peacekeeper, Roberto Caldarulo, was also wounded.

UNIFIL Spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said that “because of the huge blast, the port of Beirut and not only the port, was completely destroyed, damaged, as well as a part of the city of Beirut. One of our six ships was damaged and several peacekeepers from Bangladesh who were in the ship serving with the Maritime Task Force were injured, one of them seriously injured. They were transported to the nearest hospitals in Lebanon”.

UNIFIL’s Force Commander Stefano Del Col has been emphasizing on the importance of being close to the Lebanese people, and to the Lebanese government: “We are ready to assist and provide any kind of assistance to the Lebanese people, to the Lebanese government during these difficult times,” said Tenenti.

Captain M. Joinal Abedin of the Maritime Task Force recounted the moment of the blast. He recalled that during the explosion, he thought that it was going to be the last day of his life and that he would not survive:”It was a normal workday for us. Everybody was doing their job and people were roaming around performing their duties as usual and all of the sudden we see a small fire. A small fire doesn’t’ mean there will be a devastation. Two minutes later, the fire came closer and to another shed. We still thought it was normal and all of the sudden, there was a huge explosion which took off, and within seconds, the explosion happened. I don’t know how the explosion was in Hiroshima, but this felt similar to that.”

UNIFIL transported the injured peacekeepers to the nearest hospitals for medical treatment. Many of them were in a state of shock. When asked about his experience and some of the challenges he faced with his troops, Captain M. Joinal stated that “23 of our peacekeepers were admitted at the hospital. I suffered minor injuries, but I was able to be with them by their side at all times, supporting them and boosting their moral in such a difficult time.”

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is working closely with the authorities in Lebanon and other stakeholders and stand ready to support the ongoing response in the aftermath of the massive explosion, which destroyed large swathes of the capital and has resulted in multiple casualties. (@OnuItalia)