WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY TO HONOUR FALLEN PEACEKEEPERS - INTERNATIONAL DAY OF UN PEACEKEEPERS 2021
With a focus for this year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers on youth, peace and security, the UN chief told a commemorative ceremony on Thursday “despite COVID-19, across all our missions, peacekeepers have not only been adapting to continue to deliver their core tasks, they are also assisting national and community efforts to fight the virus.”
“I am proud of the work they have done,” said the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
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.
“The challenges and threats faced by our peacekeepers are immense”, he said. “They work hard every day to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable, while facing the dual threats of violence and a global pandemic”.
“From CAR to DRC to Lebanon, our peacekeepers work with youth to reduce violence and sustain peace, including through Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration and Community violence reduction programmes”, Secretary-General António Guterres said.
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”, underscored the UN chief. “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”.
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 Organization and to honour those who have sacrificed their lives in the process.
Previously, the Secretary-General had lain 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.
Malicious acts, accidents and fatal illnesses – including COVID-19 – had all taken their toll on uniformed and civilian peacekeepers over the past year, he explained.
Offering his condolences to their families and friends, the UN chief said: “We are forever in their debt”.
Also speaking at the virtual event, Atul Khare, the Under-Secretary General for Operational Support said “we, headquarters field missions and Member States collectively owe a duty of care to our deployed personnel. As I stated earlier, we must all be better trained, better equipped, better prepared and better tailored to meet the complex challenges we face.”
“Our peacekeepers operate in increasingly dangerous and challenging environment. And there is no better way to honor the sacrifice of those who gave their life in the service of peace, then to redouble our efforts to improve the safety and security of our peacekeepers, said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations.