The first soldiers of the 200-strong contingent took off from Poland onboard a military plane to Lebanon where they will carry out the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping mission.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission UNIFIL in Lebanon will be supported by Polish soldiers. The equipment of the Polish Armed Forces will...see more
The Polish soldiers are returning to Lebanon after a 10-year absence. Joined by Hungarian and Irish brothers-in-arms, their task will be to protect the civilian population, support the Lebanese government in providing order and security, and also to monitor the Blue Line, which is a demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel published by the United Nations on June 7, 2000 for the purposes of determining whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon.
The Polish soldiers’ official departure was attended by Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak on Friday.
The Polish Military Contingent will form part of the UNIFIL force for a period of six months. Poland joined the mission in 1992 and withdrew from UN peacekeeping missions in Lebanon, Syria and Chad for ten years, concentrating instead on NATO and EU missions.
Poland is currently concluding its term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Lebanese protests spanned decades-old societal division
The escalation of social discontentment in Lebanon has been a long one. The full-fledged unrest was triggered by the intention of former PM Saad Hariri’s government to tax WhatsApp communication software – a popular utility among Lebanese people who favour it much more than regular phone services due to their expensive.
The proposal was untimely as many citizens were already fearful and irritated by the prospect of an impending currency crisis. The Lebanese nepotism-based political system with its rule of the sectarian separation of power, with Lebanon’s president always being a Maronite Christian, the PM a Sunni Muslim and the Parliament Speaker a Shia, proved inept at dealing with uncontained corruption and added fuel to the fire.
What came to be later known as the “October Revolution” broke out on October 17 with a handful of protesters gathered in Beirut’s Riad al-Solh Square but later swelled and metastasised into possibly the largest and most comprehensive anti-government defiance the country has seen since 1990 which marked the end of the Lebanese Civil War.
The protests have been ongoing ever since, bringing an end to the sectarian rift that had been polarising Lebanese society for decades, and also resulting in a series of governmental attempts to appease the protesters, including halving MPs and ministers’ salaries and also the resignation of PM Hariri on October 29.
In a coordinated move the protests were joined by Lebanese students on November 7, who initiated sit-ins and demonstrations in the cities of Beirut, Hasabiyya, Balbek, Akkar, Sidon and others, asking public service workers and private and public bank employees to join their cause.