Last week, we marked the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers once again in the context of an ongoing pandemic that has impacted all of our operations and made the difficult job of being a peacekeeper even harder.
Honoring the more than 4,000 men and women who have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag since 1948, the Secretary-General laid a wreath on Thursday at the Peacekeepers Memorial site at UN Headquarters and expressed his profound gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
Immediately after, at the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal Awards Ceremony, we joined the Secretary-General in paying tribute to the 129 brave peacekeepers from 44 countries who, in 2020 and the first month of 2021, lost their lives in the pursuit of making the world a better and safer place. We remain forever in the debt of our civilian and uniformed peacekeepers, who have dedicated their lives to the cause of peace. We grieve with their families and loved ones, as well as with their friends in the missions they served.
In his remarks on the day, the Secretary-General underscored the paramount importance of improving the safety and security of peacekeepers, including by giving them “the tools to succeed.” This is our utmost priority and a central focus of the next phase of the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, named A4P+.
The recipient of the 2020 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award, Major Steplyne Nyaboga from Kenya, was recognized by the Secretary-General for her important contributions to mainstreaming gender perspectives in military activities of the UN-AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), including by training nearly 95 per cent of the mission’s military contingent on critical protection issues such as sexual and gender-based violence.
With this year’s theme focused on leveraging the power of youth, we continue to highlight the contributions to peace and security by the youngest members of our workforce and by youth activists within the communities UN Peacekeeping serves.
Speaking to some of our young personnel in the field via video chat, the Secretary-General commended their contributions to peacekeeping operations and stressed the important role they play in helping younger people advance peace in today’s complex mission environments.
We would like to take this opportunity to, once again, thank you for all your efforts in achieving our mandates during this uniquely challenging year, which has required new levels of flexibility and adaptability.
We are humbled by your dedication and ability to continue life-saving work in complex and strenuous environments. We remain committed to doing everything we can to support you as you carry out this vital, life-saving work.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations
Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support