Hundred plus blue helmets killed in 2022

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The more than 87 000 United Nations (UN) peacekeepers worldwide are “a beacon of hope and protection” for vulnerable civilians in an increasingly dangerous and uncertain world, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday (25 May), recognising another 102 “blue helmets” fell in the line of duty last year.

Speaking at UN headquarters in New York to mark the International Day of the Peacekeeper he said men and women from 125 countries across 12 operations are working to support security, stability and the rule of law

The commemoration was held early because May 29 – the actual day of the peacekeeper – this year coincides with the United States Memorial Day public holiday.

“’Blue helmets’ around the world are the beating heart of the UN commitment to peace,” he said.

“Bringing peacekeepers from around the world together, peacekeeping has become an inspiring symbol of multilateralism in action,” he told those attending ahead of presenting the prestigious UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year award to a Ghanian peacekeeper in the General Assembly Hall in New York.

“Thanks to the increasing complexity of conflict, stagnating peace processes, the constant beat of terrorist activity, armed militia, gang violence and transnational crime, communities, countries and entire regions are increasingly being poisoned.

“And the digital world has become a frightening frontier of tension, division, hate, mis- and disinformation.

“Sadly, our peacekeepers are increasingly working where there is no peace to keep.”

He called on governments represented in the General Assembly to “seriously reflect on the need for a new generation of peace enforcement missions and counter-terrorism operations,”  led by Security Council mandate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that could rely on a guaranteed funding stream.

Before the ceremony the UN chief laid a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial, honouring the sacrifice made by all those serving under the UN flag.

“We mourn their loss and share our sympathies with their families, friends and colleagues. We will never forget their contributions”, he said before leading a moment of silence.

The roll of those who died in service last year was read, on this the 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping operations, with more than 4 200 killed in total, in the cause of peace.

“Our fallen military, police and civilian personnel came from 39 different countries, with diverse backgrounds, but all embodies our duty to peace. I extend my deepest condolences and gratitude to their families, friends, colleagues and home countries represented here.

“I pay tribute to their service and sacrifice, which inspire our work every day. And I commit to doing everything we can to support pour peacekeepers in their missions, including improving safety and security and effectiveness of peacekeeping through the Action for Peacekeeping Plus strategy.”

UN Head of Operational Support, Atul Khare, accepted a medal on behalf of the families of 42 civilian peacekeepers who paid the ultimate sacrifice, from 20 Member States.

He sees the best way to honour their memories as “rededicating ourselves and our efforts to the cause of peace”.