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Editorial: Spare a thought, a prayer for our peacekeepers and families

Tomorrow marks an important day in the annals of Fijian peacekeeping mission. Two fallen Fijian peacekeepers will  be posthumously awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal. The medal is named after Dag
24 May 2017 15:03
Editorial: Spare a thought, a prayer for our peacekeepers and families

Tomorrow marks an important day in the annals of Fijian peacekeeping mission.

Two fallen Fijian peacekeepers will  be posthumously awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal. The medal is named after Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the UN, who died in a plane crash in what is now Zambia in September 1961.

The two Fijians were among 117 military, Police and Civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations during 2016.

Major Jovilisi Cagilaba Sovita served with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF;) and  Police  Assistant Superintendent Mosese Tokailagi  served with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The event will be the highlight of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers to be observed at the UN headquarters in New York.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will lay a wreath to honour all fallen peacekeepers and will preside over the medal ceremony.

In a video message to mark the Day, the Secretary-General said:  “Every day, peacekeepers help bring peace and stability to war-torn societies around the world.  On the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, we pay tribute to the more than 3500 peacekeepers who have given their lives in the service of peace since 1948.”   

At the Fijian Parliament yesterday MPs passed a Bill to amend the After Care Fund to also include Police and Corrections officers and their families. Prior to the Bill the Fund only covered military officers and their families.

The change recognises the sacrifice of our men and women in promoting peace in volatile regions of the world.

They protect civilians in harm’s way and promote human rights and the rule of law.

Mr Guterres said their sacrifice only “strengthens our commitment to ensuring that United Nations peacekeepers continue protecting civilians…”

He said peacekeepers removed landmines, advanced negotiations and secured a better future in the places they were deployed.

“Now, more than ever, it is essential that we continue investing in peace around the world.”

The Bill passed by our MPs yesterday is consistent with this profound statement.

While we pay our respects to the brave peacekeepers who are no longer with us, we must ensure that those who continue the legacy are well looked after.

Figures released by the UN show that more than 96,000 uniformed personnel from 124 troop-and-police-contributing countries serve under the blue flag, alongside more than 15,000 international and national civilian staff and nearly 1600 United Nations Volunteers. Fiji is the 38th largest contributor.

Despite our size, we punch above our weight and we’re widely respected throughout the world. We have to do everything within our power to ensure our peacekeepers are safe wherever they operate.

The procurement of Russian arms and Australian armed personnel carriers, underscores Government’s commitment to keep our peacekeepers safe in the Golan Heights. It is in line with Mr Guterres’ statement.

Peacekeeping is a high risk operation. Daily our peacekeepers are exposed to danger.

Both sides of Parliament yesterday recognised the valuable contribution our peacekeepers give to world peace. Spare a thought or a prayer for our peacekeepers and their families. NEMANI DELAIBATIKI

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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