SUDAN WATCH: Six fallen peacekeepers from South Africa to be honoured on International Day of UN Peacekeepers 29 May

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Six fallen peacekeepers from South Africa to be honoured on International Day of UN Peacekeepers 29 May

Tomorrow, 29 May, Dag Hammarskjöld Medals will be awarded posthumously to the military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives last year serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

At United Nations Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to oversee a solemn wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the 132 peacekeeping personnel, 10 of them women, who lost their lives -– whether through attacks, illnesses or accidents –- in 2008 in the service of peace.

Six fallen peacekeepers from South Africa to be honoured on International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers
PRETORIA, South Africa, May 28, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers will be marked on 29 May at the Freedom Park in Pretoria, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, as well as at its peacekeeping missions and offices around the world, with a special focus on women peacekeepers, as the United Nations tries to move towards gender equity in its ranks.

This year’s commemorative ceremonies come at a time when the services of United Nations peacekeepers are in greater demand than ever. There are currently more than 113,000 peacekeepers, including 90,000 military and police personnel from 117 countries, serving in 18 operations on four continents.

At United Nations Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to oversee a solemn wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the 132 peacekeeping personnel, 10 of them women, who lost their lives -– whether through attacks, illnesses or accidents –- in 2008 in the service of peace.

Among the 132 peacekeepers who will be honoured posthumously at the ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters are six personnel from South Africa. Staff Sergeant Samson Davids, Corporal Sibusiso Bafana Nelson Dube and Corporal Morney Reinaart Molouly lost their lives while serving with the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Private Lesedi Boitumelo Monasia, Corporal Ben Benjamin Titus, and Corporal Sydney Melvin Williams who lost their lives while serving with the African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur.

As part of the commemoration ceremonies, on 29 May, Dag Hammarskjöld Medals will be awarded posthumously to the military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives last year serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations. The Secretary-General will speak at the beginning of this ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m. The medals will be received by representatives of the respective Permanent Missions to be forwarded on to the next of kin.

This year, the United Nations is marking the Day with special emphasis on the important role played by women peacekeepers and the need to deploy them in greater numbers.

In his message to mark the Day, the Secretary-General said: “There are still far too few women peacekeepers. With women joining national militaries and police in greater numbers, it is critical that Member States contribute even more female personnel to the United Nations. On this International Day, let us draw on the power of women to strengthen UN peacekeeping while helping women and girls themselves to transform their destinies –- and societies –- for the better.”

However, women make up only 8 per cent of the United Nations police and 2 per cent of its military personnel. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations has urged troop and police-contributing countries to deploy more women. India answered the call in 2007 with the deployment of a 125-member all-female police contingent to Liberia. The United Nations is also working to increase the number of women in senior positions at Headquarters and in field missions.

Of the 117 countries that provide uniformed peacekeepers to the United Nations, the largest contributors are Pakistan (10,626), Bangladesh (9,220), India (8,617), Nigeria (5,792) and Nepal (3,856).

At this time, more than 2,000 soldiers and police officers from South Africa are serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world – in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal and in Darfur, Sudan.

A photo exhibition will be on display at the Freedom Park and a short film titled, “Women in Peacekeeping: The Power to Empower” will be shown as part of the commemoration. The video is now available at http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ondemand/peace/pkdaywomen.rm, or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAuFQj9xBYc.

United Nations peacekeeping, built on more than 60 years of experience in the field, is widely acknowledged to be an indispensable tool for the international community in tackling the difficult issues of inter-State and, increasingly, intra-State conflicts. United Nations peacekeeping’s legitimacy and universality are unique, derived from its character as a collective security effort undertaken on behalf of a global organization comprising 192 Member States.

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