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International UN Peacekeepers Day

New York: UN Secretary-General António Guterres paid tribute today to fallen peacekeepers who served under the UN flag and recommitted to “carrying forward their mission for a better future.”

A series of events honouring peacekeepers were held at the UN headquarters in New York today (01 Jun) in observance of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers which the Secretary-General marked on 29 May in a visit to the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Guterres laid a wreath in memory of the more than 3,700 brave women and men who lost their lives while serving United Nations Peacekeeping since its inception, including 132 from 37 countries last year. He said the closure of the peacekeeping missions in Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia last year is a landmark on the road to peace and stability in a region that was once in chaos. He added that when the right strategies, resources and political support are in place, United Nations peacekeeping saves and improves lives for millions of people. The UN chief also presented the Dag Hammarskjöld medal to those men and women who lost their lives while service under the UN flag. He said peacekeeping has become increasingly dangerous as peacekeepers are being targeted more and more frequently. He stressed that after seeing the number of terrorist groups and criminal organisations operating in the territory where UN peacekeepers are present during his visit to Mali, it was clear for him that what is needed are peacekeepers that are well-trained, well-prepared, well-equipped, well-supported, and at the same time with the right mindset to face the extremely challenging environments in which they operate today. He noted that there was “no better-known symbol of the UN than a blue helmet.” Speaking at a press conference, UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said honouring colleagues brought with it a sense of duty to ensure better protection for peacekeepers and in doing so better protection for they populations they serve. He noted that there have been encouraging signs of progress through the Action for Peacekeeping initiative in better protecting peacekeepers and stressed the importance of bringing to justice those responsible for crimes against them. He emphasized however that “improving the effectiveness of peacekeeping [and] protecting our colleagues better is a collective undertaking and we cannot do that without the support of the Member States.” He said the Action for Peacekeeping initiative is about explaining challenges and sharing what is being done to address them. He added, “It is very much about conveying to Member States that this is not something that we can do alone; we desperately need stronger support by Member States.”

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