90 UNIFIL peacekeepers in Lebanon infected with COVID-19

south lebanon map unifil

 Up to 90 UN peacekeeping soldiers in Lebanon were confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19, LBCI TV channel reported Sunday.

LBCI said 88 of the infected soldiers belong to one battalion.

All the soldiers were placed in quarantine with required measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon has been operating in southern Lebanon since 2006 by supporting land and maritime Lebanese forces in improving their capabilities and preserving peace in the area

About 45 countries contribute peacekeepers to UNIFIL, which was set up in 1978 to patrol the border between Lebanon and Israel which are technically at war.

In August, the U.N. extended the peace mission’s mandate by one year but reduced the force’s troop capacity from 15,000 to 13,000.

¬†UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said in a statement that UNIFIL’s operations along the Lebanon-Israel border are not affected by the new virus cases.

Lebanon has seen a spike in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases since an August 4 explosion ripped through the Beirut port, killing more than 190 people and ravaging swathes of the capital. 

The small Mediterranean country has recorded a total of 23,669 Covid-19 cases, including 239 deaths since an outbreak began in February.

On Saturday, authorities announced 22 coronavirus cases at the Roumieh prison, the country’s largest detention center which has long been infamous for the poor conditions in some of its blocks, including overcrowding and harsh treatment. Xinhua/ France24