A fallen Rwandan peacekeeper will be honoured at a ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Friday, as part of the activities to mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
Corp Vincent Murangwa, who served with the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, is among the peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2014 and who will be honoured posthumously with the Dag Hammarskjöld medal, according to a statement from the UN.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal, named after the second Secretary-General of the United Nations – who died in a plane crash on his way to DR Congo in 1961 – is a posthumous award given by the UN to military personnel, police, or civilians who lose their lives while serving in a UN peacekeeping operation.
The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers will be observed on Friday, marking the seventh successive year in which the UN honours more than 100 “blue helmets” that lost their lives the previous year while serving the cause of peace.
Murangwa was killed in May, last year, during a meeting in which RDF peacekeepers had gone to mediate between two warring militia groups in Darfur, during which the militiamen became hostile and started shooting at them.
Besides Murangwa, three other peacekeepers were wounded in the fire exchange.
Rwanda, the fifth largest contributor to UN peacekeeping missions in the world, currently deploys more than 5,500 military and police personnel to the UN peace operations.
As many as 126 peacekeepers lost their lives in 2014 while serving with the UN as a result of hostile acts, accidents and natural disasters.
The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002, in tribute to all men and women serving in 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 Assembly designated May 29 as the Day because it was the date in 1948 when the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, the world body’s first peacekeeping mission, began operations in Palestine.
In a message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “United Nations peacekeeping has given life to the UN Charter’s aim “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security. Through years of struggle and sacrifice, the iconic Blue Helmet has earned its place as a symbol of hope to millions of people living in war-ravaged lands.”
According to Atul Khare, the under-secretary-general for field support, “the international community has high expectations from our civilian and military peacekeepers and we must ensure they are provided with all the support they need to undertake their important tasks.”
This year’s commemorative ceremonies will be held at a time when the demand for peacekeepers is reportedly at an all-time high.
There are now more than 125,000 UN peacekeepers, including 91,000 military personnel, 13,000 police officers as well as 17,000 international civilian and national staff serving in 16 operations on four continents.