The United Nations on Thursday held a ceremony to honour peacekeepers who died last year.
UN Chief, Ban Ki-moon who laid a wreath in honour of the fallen peacekeepers noted that nearly 3,500 peacekeepers have died since 1948 noting that peacekeeping operations have become increasingly challenging.
“Peacekeeping is becoming more and more dangerous. All too often our personnel are targeted by armed groups, spoilers and terrorists. In some areas where the UN operates, our blue flag has gone from being a shield to a target,” Ban Ki-moon said.
He also indicated that over 100 peacekeepers lost their lives in the line of duty last year.
“Last year, 129 peacekeepers from 50 countries lost their lives due to malicious acts, accidents and disease. It was the 12th time in the last 13 years that more than 100 Blue Helmets fell in one year. The tragic total since 1948 is nearly 3,500.”
Ban Ki-moon however assured that the legacy of the fallen peacekeepers will not be in vein.
“The United Nations is doing everything possible to protect civilians, end fighting and create conditions for lasting peace. Today we mourn those who lost their lives – and we also pay tribute to the scores of others who were injured. This wreath is for the peacekeepers who died so that others may live. We honor their bravery. Although their lives were cut short, their legacy will live on.”
On Wednesday, five UN peacekeepers from Chad were killed and three others wounded in northern Mali when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. An unknown gunman then opened fire on the peacekeepers.
Seven soldiers were also killed in an attack on the UN base in Kidal in Mali on February 12 leaving some 30 others injured.
But the UN Secretary-General said “these outrageous crimes will never stop us from pursuing peace in Mali or anywhere”.
May 29 each year is commemorated as International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
The theme for this year is “Honoring our Heroes”.
The 2016 commemoration marks the eighth straight year in which the UN has honoured more than 100 ‘Blue Helmets’ who lost their lives in the previous year in the line of duty, according to un.org.