UNITED NATIONS, May 25 (APP): The United Nations has honoured at a
solemn ceremony 117 military, police and civilian personnel from 43 countries, including five Pakistanis, who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations during 2016.
Wednesday’s ceremony marked the annual International Day of Peacekeepers during which the Dag Hammarskjold Medal was awarded posthumously to the peacekeepers who have given their lives for the cause of peace, during the preceding year.
“Every day, peacekeepers help bring peace and stability to war-torn
societies around the world,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a large and distinguished gathering in remarks on the occasion.
The Acting Pakistan Permanent Representative to the United Nations,
Nabeel Munir, accepted the awards on behalf of the families of fallen peacekeepers.
The five Pakistanis peacekeepers are: Havildar Abdul Majeed Khan and
Havildar Zishan Ahmed, who served with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO ): Lt-Colonel Muhammad Ashraf, who served with the United Nations Operation in Ivory Coast (UNOCI); Naik Qaiser Abbas, who was deployed with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA); and Ms. Shabnam Khan who served in a civilian capacity with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
Pakistan is one of the largest contributors of military and police
personnel to UN peacekeeping. It currently deploys more than 7,100 uniformed personnel to the UN peace operations in the Central African Republic, Ivoy Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, South Sudan, Sudan and the Western Sahara.
The UN chief, who led a moment of silence to remember the fallen
peacekeepers, expressed his “deepest condolences and appreciation” to the family members and friends of those who died, as well as his “deepest sorrow and greatest appreciation” to the countries that contributed the troops and police officers.
The UN chief warned that peacekeepers continue to come under attack from armed groups, spoilers and increasingly by terrorists, including incidents in Mali, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan.
“But the closure of our operations in Ivory Coast and Liberia over the
coming months reminds us that the contributions, investments and sacrifices of our United Nations peacekeepers have contributed to the transformation of these countries from battlefields to peaceful states,” he stressed.
“And the greatest tribute we can pay to those who have died is to
rededicate ourselves to continuing their work to build and maintain peace,” he said.
“UN peacekeeping is one of the international community’s most
effective investments to support peace, security and prosperity. ” While peacekeeping carries a tragically high price in lives lost, it brings enormous returns in lives saved,” Guterres said.
“And if there is something that makes the United Nations known all
over the world are Blue Helmets,” he said. “Our debt in relation to peacekeepers is something that we will never be able to repay.”
UN peacekeeping operations use the Day to strengthen bonds with the
local populations that they have been deployed to serve. For example by holding sporting events, school and orphanage visits, art and essay competitions, photo exhibits, neighbourhood clean ups, tree plantings, concerts, and conferences and workshops on peace issues.