UN remembers its fallen peacekeepers

Peacekeepers are often engaged in countries or areas where there is no peace to keep. Despite direct attacks by armed groups, harsh operating environments, and the emergence of new weapons of war, UN peacekeepers persevere, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. "And we must support them."

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (L) attends a wreath laying ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York, on May 30, 2024. (Mark Garten/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)

The United Nations on Thursday held events at its headquarters in New York to honor the memory of the UN peacekeepers who lost their lives since 1948.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres laid a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial on the premises of UN Headquarters in New York to pay homage to the more than 4,300 UN peacekeepers who lost their lives since 1948. He later presided over a ceremony at which Dag Hammarskjold Medals were awarded posthumously to 61 peacekeepers from 33 countries who died last year serving under the UN flag.

The world is going through a difficult and dangerous time. The international community is deeply divided. Conflicts rage; divisions are rife; and there’s an alarming lack of political support for solidarity and practical solutions. At every step, civilians — children, women and men — bear the brunt, said Guterres at the Dag Hammarskjold Medal ceremony.

“Our UN peacekeepers are more important than ever. Our Blue Helmets hail from all corners of the globe. But they are united in their mission of peace, carrying out their essential work in some of the world’s most dangerous places,” he said. “What began with the deployment of a small number of unarmed military observers to the Middle East in 1948 has grown to be a global force for peace. Today, more than 76,000 women and men from 121 countries are deployed in 11 operations.”

Peacekeepers represent multilateralism in action. They protect the most vulnerable, preserve fragile cease-fires, defuse local conflicts, remove landmines and explosive remnants of war, strengthen the local institutions and democratic systems, and promote conflict prevention, he said.

Peacekeepers are often engaged in countries or areas where there is no peace to keep. Despite direct attacks by armed groups, harsh operating environments, and the emergence of new weapons of war, UN peacekeepers persevere, he said. “And we must support them.”

Guterres presented the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award for 2023 to Maj. Radhika Sen of India, who served in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Guterres hailed Maj. Sen as “a true leader and role model,” saying her service is a true credit to the United Nations as a whole.

Thursday’s events formed the annual observance of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, which falls on May 29. 

Xinhua News Agency

Founded in 1931, Xinhua News Agency is one of the largest news organizations in the world, with over 10,000 employees across the globe. As the main source of news and information for China, Xinhua plays a key role in shaping the country's media landscape and communicating its perspectives to the world. The agency produces a wide range of content, including text news articles, photos, videos, and social media posts, in both Chinese and English, and its reports are widely used by media organizations around the world. Xinhua also operates several international bureaus, including in key capitals like Washington, D.C., Moscow, and London, to provide in-depth coverage of global events.

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