Posthumous Award For Fallen Fijian Peacekeepers

Beginning in 2001, the UN began awarding dozens of medals each month for the UN peacekeepers that had been killed between 1948 and 2001.
23 May 2019 16:10
Posthumous Award For Fallen Fijian Peacekeepers
The late Staff Sergeant Penieli Racolo at Camp Ziouni in 2015. Photo: Supplied by the Racolo family.

The family of the late Staff Sergeant (SSGT) Penieli Racolo is proud he has been recognised for his contribution to world peace.

He is one of the three posthumous recipients of the Dag Hammarskjold medal.

SSgt Racolo is one of the three Fijian soldiers who died while deployed with the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively.

The other two are Sergeant (SGT) Savenaca Bulivakacegu and Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Semiti Korovavala.

Speaking on behalf of the late SSgt Racolo’s family, his sister Vika Naivalutaki said she was very close to her brother.

She said he deserved the award because he was hard working.

“When he was alive, he used military life at home because he did not want anyone to be late to work or school,” she said.

“He always wanted to see that the home was clean all the time.”

Mrs Naivalutaki said she sorely missed her brother.

The late SSGT Racolo died at Camp Ziouani after a fitness test in June 2015.

Mrs Naivalutaki said her brother was scheduled to return to Fiji a week before his untimely death.

She said the family was looking forward to his return, but little did they know that he would be back in a casket.

Mrs Naivalutaki said SSgt Racolo had three children and she was looking after them.

His children are Ratu Kiniviliame Racolo, now a first-year heavy machinery student at the Fiji National University (FNU), and Form 5 student at Nasinu Secondary School Sesenieli Tagi Racolo. Their mother is from Vatulele. His youngest is Form 4 Adi Cakobau School (ACS) student Camari Dauna Racolo from his marriage to nurse Miriama Doughty Racolo from Yasawa.

Mrs Racolo was a nurse and she died when Ms Camari was just five years old.

“I treat them as my real children and I’m happy with them,” Mrs Naivalutaki said.

The Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto, thanked the UN for honouring our fallen soldiers in the mission areas.

“We understand the sacrifice our men and women go through because there is always an odd chance of them not returning,” he said.

Fiji is the 41st largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping.

It currently deploys 447 military and police personnel to the UN peace operations in Iraq, Lebanon, the Middle East, Sudan and South Sudan

According to Wikipedia, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is a posthumous award given by the United Nations (UN) to military personnel, police or civilians who lose their lives while serving in a United Nations peacekeeping operation.

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

On October 6, 1998, the first three Dag Hammarskjöld Medals were awarded to Hammarskjöld himself, René de Labarrière (killed by a land mine in Palestine in July 1948), and Folke Bernadotte (assassinated in Jerusalem by Jewish extremists in September 1948).

Beginning in 2001, the UN began awarding dozens of medals each month for the UN peacekeepers that had been killed between 1948 and 2001.

Since 2001, there has been an annual medal ceremony for those who were killed in UN peacekeeping operations the previous year. The ceremony is held on May 29, which is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

Meanwhile the UN Headquarters will observe the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on Friday, May 24, 2019.

The global theme for this year’s commemoration is “Protecting Civilians, Protecting Peace”.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres will lay a wreath to honour all UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives since 1948 and will preside over a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to 119 military, police and civilian peacekeepers, who lost their lives in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and early 2019.

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002, to pay tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

The General Assembly designated May 29 as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in commemoration of the day in 1948 when the UN’s first peacekeeping mission, the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), began operations in Palestine.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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