As part of the activities to mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, three Rwandan peacekeepers killed in action in different peacekeeping missions are expected to be honoured with the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal.
The event, that was due late Friday, was set to see the inaugural UN medal awarded in honour of Captain Mbaye Diagne, a Senegalese peacekeeper killed in Rwanda in 1994.
The first of such medal was presented to the Mbaye’s family in his honour in 2016 and since then, there has not been any successful nomination for the medal until this week.
Mbaye was killed trying to save people during the Genocide against the Tutsi, in which over a million people would die in just 100 days.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres was expected to lay a wreath to honour all UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives since 1948 and preside over a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal were to be awarded posthumously to 119 military, police and civilian peacekeepers, who lost their lives in 2018 and early 2019.
Among the fallen peacekeepers bestowed the Dag Hammarskjold medal are three Rwandans.
These, according to a statement, include Major Richard Ntambara and Sergeant John Bosco Hategekimana who both served with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and Staff Sergeant Felicien Rutegera, who served with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The recipient of the Mbaye medal this year is Private Chancy Chitete, a Malawian peacekeeper, who was killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo last year, as he tried to save a fellow peacekeeper.
His comrade survived, and Private Chitete’s heroism and sacrifice helped the peacekeepers achieve their objective of protecting civilians and forcing the rebels to withdraw from the area.
Private Chitete’s family was due to receive the medal on his behalf during the Peacekeepers’ Day commemorations in New York.
Rwanda is currently the 3rd largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping. It currently contributes more than 6,500 military and police personnel to five UN peacekeeping operations with protection of civilian mandates: in Abyei, the Central African Republic, Haiti, South Sudan and Sudan.
The global theme for this year’s commemoration is ‘Protecting Civilians, Protecting Peace’.