United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Saturday in New York, gave posthumous awards of Dag Hammarskjöld medal to 126 peacekeepers from 38 countries, who died in 2014 while serving under the UN flag.

Among those awarded, were four Nigerians who lost their lives while serving as peacekeepers in Liberia and Senegal, with the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal.

The honour was part of the activities to celebrate the ‘International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers’ observe every year on May 29.

2015 is marking the seventh successive year in which the Organisation will honour more than 100 ‘blue helmets’, as they are referred to.

NAN reports that Lance Corporals Silas Danyawu and John Julius from the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Corporal Adama Ike and SGT. Rabiatu Musa who both served with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), got the award.

NAN also reports that the egg-shaped medal, is made of clear lead free glass, engraved with the name and date of death of the recipient, the UN logo, and the inscription “The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal.”

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The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal was a posthumous award given by the UN to military personnel, police, or civilians, who lose their lives while serving in a UN peacekeeping operation.

The medal is named after Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the UN, who died in a plane crash in what is now Zambia in September 1961.

At the award ceremony, Ban said: “I regret to say this is the seventh year in a row that more than 100 peacekeepers lost their lives.

“The risks that our peacekeepers face are growing steadily from attacks by extremists and rebel groups to the threat of diseases, including Ebola.

“Of all the ceremonies that the UN organises, this is perhaps the most solemn and most difficult, but in many ways it is the most inspiring.

“The peacekeeping community gathers together to honour courageous men and women, who lost their lives while defending the most vulnerable people in some of the most dangerous places on earth.

“Their sacrifice and the way that they lived their lives, makes us all proud and spurs us on to work harder to ensure that their lives were not lost in vain,” he said.

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The UN Peacekeeping, Ban said will continue to carry risks and sadly this will not be the last time we gather together to mourn.

Our peacekeepers carry a heavy burden for all of us.

He said their hard work and successes have made UN peacekeeping an irreplaceable tool for the international community to address countries in conflict and to help the millions of people affected by war.

The fact that 125,000 peacekeepers serve today, an all-time high, Ban said, is a true testament to the faith and confidence entrusted in them.

He said that among those honoured were peacekeepers, who lost their lives in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mali, the Middle East, Liberia, Sudan and South Sudan.

The UN Chief said 41 of the peacekeepers honoured lost their lives in Mali, on May 28, due to acts of violence.

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“We may be gathered in New York, but our thoughts are with our colleagues still deployed around the world.

“When many people think of peacekeepers they often think of our heroic blue-helmeted military personnel.

“Those we honour today were also police officers, medical personnel, public affairs officers and national staff.

“They all played their own special role in our multi-dimensional peacekeeping operations which not only try to keep peace, but to also build it so that the countries don’t relapse into conflict.

“Today, I offer my highest tribute to those we honour, and my sincerest condolences to their loved ones.