Polish troops to return to UN duties in Lebanon soon

Duda said he hoped that Polish Blue Helmets would bring peace and security to people. Piotr Polak/PAP

Speaking at a training range in Nowa Dęba in southeastern Poland on Tuesday, President Andrzej Duda expressed satisfaction that Polish troops will soon return to UN peace-keeping duties with a 250-person contingent to be deployed to Lebanon.

"We have many decades of tradition in that service. We had - that tradition was broken for a while," Duda said, adding that "our soldiers are returning, they will serve in Lebanon."

He said he hoped that Polish Blue Helmets would bring peace and security to people and expressed his conviction that the Polish contingent is perfectly prepared for its mission, pointing out that the contingent of 250 includes civilian personnel.

The president also highlighted Poland's concluding term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. "I'm glad that our presence on the UN Security Council, which is coming to a close at the end of the year, will be summed up by this return to missions within the framework of the United Nations peace-keeping forces," Duda said.

The president signed a decision last Friday for 250 military personnel of the Polish Military Contingent to form part of the UNIFIL force (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) for a period of six months as of Tuesday. The first shift of the contingent will comprise the 12th Mechanised Brigade from Szczecin (northern Poland). 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.

Meeting soldiers of the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade in Nowa Dęba on Tuesday, President Duda also said that from next year the average pay of a career soldier will increase by PLN 576 (EUR 133) a month and signed an order to that effect before a press conference. The new pay scale comes into effect from January 1, 2020.

President Duda said the sum was not inconsiderable and expressed hope that it would bolster the domestic finances of professional soldiers' families.

The Ministry of Defence had previously announced that professional soldiers' pay would increase, together with add-ons, by an average of PLN 624 (EUR 144) bringing the average monthly wage to over PLN 6,000 (EUR 1,385).