Three fallenRwandan peacekeepers will posthumously receive the Dag Hammarskjold medal, tomorrow, as the United Nations observe the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
The event will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
A UN statement indicates that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will lay a wreath to honour all fallen peacekeepers and will preside over a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to 117 military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations during 2016.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is named after the second UN Secretary-General, who in 1961 died in a plane crash as he headed for cease fire negotiations in DR Congo.
The three fallen peacekeepers from Rwanda, who are among the 117 to be awarded are, Pvt Alex Katurebe, who served with UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic; Corp Jean Saver Benimana, and Serg Innocent Nsabimana who were deployed with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
“Every day, peacekeepers help bring peace and stability to war-torn societies around the world. On the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, we pay tribute to the more than 3,500 peacekeepers who have given their lives in the service of peace since 1948,” Guterres is quoted as saying in the statement.
“Their sacrifice only strengthens our commitment to ensuring that United Nations peacekeepers continue protecting civilians in harm’s way, promoting human rights and the rule of law, removing landmines, advancing negotiations and securing a better future in the places they are deployed. Now, more than ever, it is essential that we continue investing in peace around the world.”
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations, said in the statement that it was imperative that the international community continues to empower peacekeeping forces for effective operations.
“We pay our greatest respects to the committed and courageous peacekeepers who are no longer with us today. I offer my deepest and most sincere condolences to the families of those we honour and to the bereaved,” he said.
Rwanda is the fifth largest contributor of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping. It currently deploys more than 6,100 uniformed personnel to the UN missions in the Central African Republic, Haiti, Sudan and South Sudan.
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 peacekeeping, 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.
While the Day will be marked in New York on the 24th, UN Peacekeeping operations and UN offices around the world will commemorate the Day on or around the 29th, according to the statement.