By Cecilia Ologunagba
UN Secretary General, António Guterres, on Thursday, hailed active participation of young people in peace keeping while saluting the dedication of peacekeepers to global peace and security.
The UN chief told a commemorative ceremony of International Day of UN Peacekeepers that global peace would not be achieved without the dedication and sacrifice of the peacekeepers.
Celebrated annually on 29 May, Peacekeepers Day offers a chance to pay tribute to the invaluable contribution that uniformed and civilian personnel make to the work of the organisation and to honour those who have sacrificed their lives in the process.
The focus for 2021 International Day of UN Peacekeepers is youth, peace and security.
“From The Central African Republic (CAR) to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Lebanon, our peacekeepers work with youth to reduce violence and sustain peace, including through Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration and Community violence reduction programmes.
“And young peacekeepers bring new ideas, hope and energy to UN operations by effectively engaging with local populations, and contributing to improved overall performance and mandate delivery.
“We salute the dedication and bravery of all our peacekeepers – women and men, the young and the slightly older – and we remain grateful for their service and sacrifice.
“They deserve our full support, and we must continue to work together to do all that we can to improve their safety and security and give them the tools to succeed,” Guterres said.
Previously, the secretary-general had laid a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial to honour the more than 4,000 women and men who since 1948 have lost their lives while serving under the blue flag.
He said malicious acts, accidents and fatal illnesses, including COVID-19 – had all taken their toll on uniformed and civilian peacekeepers over the past year.
Offering his condolences to their families and friends, the UN chief said: “We are forever in their debt.
“Their ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten, and they will always be in our hearts.”
After a moment of silence, the UN chief conducted the traditional Dag Hammarskjöld Medal Ceremony, posthumously awarding the 129 blue helmets who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag last year and this January.
According to him, the challenges and threats faced by our peacekeepers are immense and they work hard every day to protect some of the world’ most vulnerable.
Despite COVID-19, across all UN missions, peacekeepers have not only continued to deliver their core tasks but are also assisting national and community efforts to fight the virus.
“I am proud of the work they have done,” Guterres said. (NAN)