Indian peacekeepers deployed with the UN mission in Lebanon are being lauded for their efforts to launch an afforestation drive aimed at leaving a better and greener environment for the local residents.
The Indian contingent from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) commemorated World Environment Day, marked on June 5, by launching an afforestation drive, according to UNIFIL.
“We are aiming to plant 2,000 trees, a mix of olive and pine trees,” Major Ankit Aggarwal from UNIFIL’s Indian Battalion said in a report released by the UN mission.
“Olive is a symbol of peace, and Lebanon longs for peace, and pine is evergreen. We want Lebanon to have a long and lasting peace,” said Aggarwal.
UNIFIL’s Sector East Commander Brigadier-General Alfredo Perez, present at the ceremony to launch the project, congratulated the Indian Battalion for the initiative.
“It’s very important for us to maintain the lightest ecological footprint in the area, to increase environmental measures and to protect Mother Nature in this country,” he said.
The project is being coordinated with Lebanon’s Ministry of Agriculture.
UNIFIL’s Indian Battalion liaised directly with experts who advised them on the type of trees best suited for this project.
Over the coming weeks, hundreds of trees will be planted through joint activities with the local authorities, UNIFIL said.
India is among the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations.
UNIFIL currently has over 10,000 troops drawn from 38 countries. This includes about 9,000 ground troops and about 1,000 naval personnel of the Maritime Task Force.
In addition there are about 1,000 civilian peacekeepers, both international and national, serving with UNIFIL.