A flag-raising, wreath-laying and tree-planting ceremony was yesterday held in Accra to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the International Day for United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers.
With a parade of 72 officers and personnel from the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana Police Service, the event was on the theme ” Peace begins with me: 75 years of UN peacekeeping.”
Ministers of State, members of the diplomatic community, security personnel and students from selected schools in Accra gathered at the forecourt of the State House to observe the Day.
Each year, May 29 is set aside to pay tribute to the uniformed and civilian peacekeepers and to honour about 4,200 of their colleagues who have died serving under the UN flag since 1948.
Ghana is currently the 7th largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping out of 122 countries, with nearly 2,756 Ghanaian military and police personnel among 87, 000 peacekeepers on a mission across the world.
Since the country deployed its first formed contingent to Congo in 1960, more than 147 Ghanaian service men and women have died during various missions.
This year, one deceased Ghanaian, WOII John Angmor Nartey, was among 103 peacekeepers posthumously honoured for their meritorious service at the UN headquarters, alongside Captain Cecilia Erzuah who emerged the first Ghanaian peacekeeper to receive United Nations Military Peacekeepers Advocate of the Year Award – 2022 .
Back home in Accra, wreaths were laid by government and UN officials as well as the widow of a late peacekeeper Sergeant Mansfield Sekyere, who could not control her tears after doing so.
Two “trees of life” were symbolically planted amidst somber music in memory of the departed heroes. The trees would be replanted at the Ministry of Defence.
The Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Thomas Mbomba, said Ghana’s contribution of peacekeepers was a show of the country’s commitment to global peace.
He said the changing nature and specifics of modern conflict complicated by terrorist threats and economic situations pose a challenge to the international community.
“It is regrettable that despite the noble reason that the blue helmets carry out every day in extremely difficult and dangerous conditions, we continue to witness and upset the conflicts and war situations in many parts of the world.
“This underscores the need for continued support from member states and communities to enable UN peacekeepers carry out their mandates effectively,” he said.
Mr Mbomba announced that Ghana had been selected to host the upcoming UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Conference, the first to be held in Africa.
The Deputy Minister of Defence, Kofi Amankwa-Manu, said: “We must foster a culture of peace in our communities, promote dialogue and address the root causes of conflict.
“Working together, we can create a world where peace is not an elusive dream, but a tangible reality for all.”
The UN resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, commended Ghana for its high contribution to peacekeepers who were helping to ensure stability in many parts of the world.
He noted that attainment of peace in the world did not rest on the shoulders of individual international organisations but collective efforts which start with each individual.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR