The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has appointed the Spaniard Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz as head of mission and commander of the peacekeeping forces of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
According to the UN's institutional communiqué, Lázaro will replace the Italian Stefano Col, who has already expressed his congratulations on social media and wished the new UNIFIL chief "every success in leading the mission to maintain security and stability and create the conditions for lasting peace".
In addition, the statement issued by the UN explained that the Division General has extensive experience in the Spanish Army, and has until now held the role of advisor to the Ministry of Defence for cross-cutting Defence and Security issues. In addition, he has served since 2000 at the EUROFORCE headquarters in Florence.
He has also carried out numerous missions for NATO: in the NATO Rapid Deployment Corps Spain (Valencia), Spanish Brigade "Guzmán el Bueno" (Córdoba) in three posts as brigade commander, regimental commander and chief of staff.
Lázaro has "vast international experience" according to the statement, having participated "in Peacekeeping Operations: three tours in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the command of the United Nations (UNPROFOR), NATO (SFOR) and the European Union (EUFOR) respectively; and three additional tours in UNIFIL as Liaison Officer in Naqoura, Chief of Staff and Commander of Sector East".
The Spanish Ministry of Defence was among the first to congratulate the general on social media, stressing that he "will be in charge of commanding the contingent of more than 10,000 blue helmets and 800 civilians from 46 countries".
La ONU confía a España el mando de su misión de paz en Líbano. Será el general de División del @EjercitoTierra Aroldo Lázaro quien mande el contingente de más de 10.000 cascos azules y 800 civiles procedentes de 46 países. Seguimos comprometidos con la paz ¡¡Enhorabuena general!! pic.twitter.com/AkrRok3D0P— Ministerio Defensa (@Defensagob) February 5, 2022
With Lázaro's appointment, Spain will assume command of UNIFIL for the second time at a particularly difficult time for the country. This peace operation aims to secure peace between the borders of Israel and Lebanon, deploy sufficient humanitarian aid, and help achieve the safe return of displaced persons.
The Spanish Armed Forces are fully involved in this mission. Its presence in the area dates back to September 2006, when the UN requested Spain, France and Italy to make a military contribution in the area to enable the implementation and modernisation of new objectives for UNIFIL.
With a 90% devaluation of the Lebanese pound, the country has been plunged into one of its greatest social, institutional and security crises. All this, coupled with deep political instability, the hangover from the pandemic and the lack of energy supplies, makes the situation of the people living in Lebanon worse and worse, making the Lebanese population totally dependent on humanitarian aid from other countries.