The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers will be observed on Thursday, 29 May 2014. This marks the sixth year in a row the United Nations will honour more than 100 Blue Helmets who lost their lives the previous year while serving the cause of peace. This sombre milestone is a stark reminder of the risks incurred by individuals who put their lives on the line when they deploy to UN missions around the world.
In a message to mark the Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “Last year, 106 Peacekeepers perished carrying out their duty under the UN flag, bringing the total number of lives lost in the history of peacekeeping to more than 3,200. We mourn the passing of every one of these courageous individuals. We grieve with their friends and families and we recommit ourselves to ensure that their contributions to the cause of peace will never be forgotten
Among the peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2013 were three from Togo: Sergeant Kpelor ADJINARE, Sergeant Tchiou BALI and Staff Sergeant Magnimatema N’KALOU who all died while serving with the United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (ONUCI).
Commemorative activities will be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, as well as at UN peacekeeping operations and offices around the world.
The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002 to pay tribute to all men and women serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. The General Assembly designated 29 May as the Day, as it was the date in 1948 when the first United Nations peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), began operations in Palestine.
This year’s commemorative ceremonies come at a time when the services of United Nations peacekeepers continue to be in great demand. There are nearly 85,000 military personnel, 12,500 police officers, 17,000 international civilian and national staff serving in 16 peacekeeping operations on four continents.
Togo currently contributes more than 1,600 military and police personnel to the United Nations peacekeeping operations
The Secretary-General said in his message: “Let us all commit to following the selfless example of our fallen heroes, as we work together to help our blue helmets be a force for peace, a force for change, and a force for the future.”
According to the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous “we honour those who have lost their lives while serving on our peacekeeping operations. Our courageous peacekeepers who made this ultimate sacrifice did so so that others could have a better life. I express my deepest and most sincere condolences to the families and friends of those we honour today. We honour their memory and pay tribute to their dedication."
Togo currently contributes more than 1,600 military and police personnel to the United Nations peacekeeping operations in Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, and Western Sahara.