Ghana on Thursday joined the world to observe International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, to honour men and women who lost their lives, while serving at the UN Peace Keeping Missions.
There were flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies at the Fore Court of the State House in Accra, to commemorate the day.
More than 116,000 UN personnel from more than 120 countries served in 16 peace-keeping operations, and more than 3,200 of them lost their lives, carrying out their duties under the UN flag.
The global theme for this year’s commemoration was UN Peacekeeping: A Force for peace, A Force for change, a force for the Future” and in Ghana, the local theme was “Ghana: A UN partner for Peace, for change and for the Future.”
Ms Susan Namondo Ngongi, UN Resident Co-ordinator Ad Interim, reading the UN Secretary General’s message, said: “we mourn the passing of every one of these courageous individuals. We grieve with their friends and families and we recommit ourselves to ensure that their contributions to the cause of peace will never be forgotten.”
She said since Ghana’s first participation in the UN Operation in the Congo (ONUC) in the early 1960s, Ghanaian peace-keepers are noted for their bravery and dedicated services, in defence of freedom and justice around the world.
She said though the peace-keepers risked their lives, they had left their marks in the hearts and minds of millions of men, women and children, who had been caught up in conflict situations.
“Ghana today pays special tribute to the more than 100 Ghanaian personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice, and lost their lives since Ghana joined UN peace-keeping operations more than 60 years ago.
“As we remember our fallen Ghanaian peace-keepers, on behalf of the UN family in Ghana, I would like to join the government and people of Ghana, in expressing our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the late Lt. Col. Jack Franklin Glawu, Corporal Daniel Kwaku Sasu and Private Kwabena Nyarko who lost their lives this year.”
“We also use this occasion to salute those Ghanaian women and men who are currently serving, as part of almost 120,000 peace-keepers around the globe,” she added.
Ms Ngongi said the UN peace-keeping had a long and proud history with more than one million peace-keepers, having served in more than 70 operations on four continents, since its establishment in 1948.
She said at great personal risk, these military, police and civilian personnel help stabilize communities, protect civilians, promote the rule of law and advance human rights.
She noted that the UN peace-keeping was modernizing to ensure that it tackled tomorrow’s peace and security challenges through deployment of new technologies, such as armed, unarmed aerial vehicles, refining its practices to better protect civilians, and boosting the representation of women among its ranks while strengthening its partnerships with regional organisations
She said: “The United Nations is improving logistics and administrative practices, strengthening infrastructure, and taking other steps to harness the power of our personnel.
Earlier this month, the UN Security Council established the “Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal,” named after the unarmed Senegalese peace-keeper who lost his own life after saving as many as a thousand people during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.”
Ms Ngongi said the medal would honour UN personnel who demonstrate exceptional courage, and urged all to commit to following the selfless example of Mbaye Diagne, and other fallen heroes, as “we work together to help our blue helmets be a force for peace, a force for change, and a force for the future.”
Mr Mark Woyongo, Minister of Defence, and the Reviewing Officer of the occasion, expressed the government and people of Ghana’s appreciation to the UN Resident Co-ordinator Ad Interim, her team and the ad-hoc Planning Committee for organising and coordinating the activities.
He said the quest for peace sometimes comes at a great cost, and since the UN Peace Operation Mission began, over 3000 peace-keepers had lost their lives, out of which over 130 are Ghanaians.
He extended his condolences to the families of the fallen heroes, adding that their sacrifices would always be remembered, since they died for a noble cause, and their death should “let us all resolve to maintain peace in the country.”
Mr Woyongo pledged Ghana’s continuous support for UN peace-keeping operations.
He announced that the Lebanon in Ghana had promised to give scholarship to the dependants of officers who lost their lives in Lebanon.
Mr Woyongo and Ms Ngongi laid a wreath each on behalf of government and the people of Ghana, and the UN, while Major General BG Saagul, Chief of Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces and Mrs Vivian Glawu, Wife of Lt. Col Jack Franklin Glawu laid two on behalf of the security personnel and the fallen heroes.
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