UN pays tribute to the fallen peacekeepers

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The United Nations flag no longer offers protection to the women and men serving as peacekeepers around the world.

That was the sobering message from the UN Secretary General at a memorial ceremony to mark the International Day of Peacekeepers which officially falls on May 29th.

About 129 peacekeepers were lost in various conflicts in 2017 but missions in Mali, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo have proved to be the most deadly.

South Africa also lost one peacekeeper in the DRC.

UN peacekeeping marks 70 years with more than 3700 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives.

UN Chief Antonio Guterres says: “Over the past 70 years, more than 1 million men and women have served under the United Nations flag. We acknowledge the sacrifice made by the families and friends of all our peacekeepers, but especially of those who did not return home. Today, as we honour the memory of our fallen peacekeepers, we recommit to carrying forward their mission for a better future.”

Among the 129 fallen soldiers, Private Nomathemba Ngeleka was also killed by her partner while serving in the DRC.

South Africa’s UN military advisor Brigadier General Mninimzi Sizani received the Dag Hammarskjold medal from the Secretary General on her family’s behalf.

“It is clear for me that we need peacekeepers that are well trained, well prepared, well equipped, and well supported and at the same time with the right mind-set to face the extremely challenging environments.”

In 2017 saw the highest number of peacekeepers lost in operations due to malicious acts targeting blue helmets.

Mali has proven to be the most dangerous theatre with 42 deaths in 2017 followed by the DRC with 33 including 15 Tanzanian troops killed in a single attack in the east of the country, while the Central African Republic accounted for 27 blue helmets in 2017.

Antonio Guterres says:”But the past year has also demonstrated the value of our peacekeeping missions. The closure of two of them in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia is a landmark on the road to peace and stability in a region that was once in chaos. When the right strategies, resources and political support are in place, United Nations peacekeeping saves and improves lives for millions of people.”

UN peacekeeping marks 70 years with more than 3700 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives.

More than 96 000 uniformed personnel from 124 troop and police contributing countries currently serve under the blue flag.