Defence minister hails professionalism, courage of peacekeepers

The Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, has hailed the professionalism, dedication and courage of peacekeepers and commiserated with their families.

He said it was through the enormous sacrifice and selflessness of both living and deceased peacekeepers that many people around the world were today living with some measure of peace.

He was addressing members of the diplomatic corps, chiefs of security agencies, traditional and religious leaders yesterday to mark the International Day of United Nation (UN) Peacekeepers, observed annually to pay tribute to all deceased peacekeepers for their relentless service and dedication to world peace.

This year’s commemoration was on the theme; “Protecting Civilians, Protecting Peace” in line with the 20th anniversary when the Security Council, for the first time, purposely sent a peacekeepers to protect civilians in Sierra Leone.

Noting the relative peace Ghana was enjoying in the sub region, he reminded Ghanaians that peace was a collective effort and advocated teamwork to prevent threats that would undermine national and world peace.

He said Ghana would continue to contribute to the peacekeeping through the deployment of personnel.

Two Ghanaian peacekeepers, who lost their lives last year, were eulogised at the flag raising and wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the day.

They are the late Corporal Mercy Adade, of the Ghana Armed Forces who was with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon and the late Frank Sammy Kwofie, the Deputy Commissioner of Police at the UN African Union Mission in Darfur.

The two, who died on October 15 and April 5 respectively, are part of 98 peacekeepers worldwide that were deceased last year, bringing the number of the fallen to 3,800 since the UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948.

Last year’s fallen peacekeepers were posthumously awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal last Friday at a ceremony held at the UN headquarters in New York.

At the ceremony in Accra, wreaths were laid for the fallen peacekeepers on behalf of the UN, the ministry of foreign affairs and regional integration, ministry of Defence and spouses of the deceased.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Director and UN Resident Coordinator, Dr Owen Kaluwa thanked Ghana for deploying personnel to serve humanity through peacekeeping.

He said Ghana was the 9th largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping with nearly 2,800 military and police personnel to operations in several countries.

This, he said, was out of 88,000 military  and police personnel  from 124 member states including 13,000 civilian personnel  and 13000 UN Volunteers in 14 peacekeeping operations on four continents.

He read a transcipted video message of the UN Secretary General, which called for strong international commitment towards peacekeeping since it was a vital investment in global peace and security.

“Let us work together to make peacekeeping more effective in protecting people and advancing peace” he said.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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