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General News Fri, 29 May 2009

UN Commemorates Peacekeepers Day

Accra, May 29, GNA - The United Nations on Friday commemorated International Day for Peacekeepers with a wreath laying and flag raising ritual to honour fallen peacekeepers including 10 Ghanaians who died during peacekeeping. In 2002 the General Assembly of the UN designated May 29 as the UN Peacekeepers Day to pay tribute to all men and women who have served and continue to serve in the UN peacekeeping operations for their professionalism dedication and courage and to honour the memory of those who died in the cause peace. The theme for this year is: "Women in Peacekeeping: The Power to Empower." It was meant to draw attention to the unique contributions of women soldiers and civilians in peacekeeping effort all over the world. Addressing the gathering, Mr Daouda Toure, UN Resident Representative and Coordinator for Ghana, who read the speech of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, said personnel who served under the flag of the UN did so in trying and most inhospitable areas where they faced instability, diseases and violence on daily basis. "These brave men and women have shown tremendous dedication making tangible difference in the life of many while showing to the world the caring and committed face of the UN."

Mr. Ban said in 2008, 132 peacekeepers died in the line of duty, 10 of who were women, the highest one-year total in the history of the UN peacekeeping.

He said the loss of 10 women among them sent the signal that female personnel were increasingly playing very important roles in peacekeeping as they shouldered grave risks at the peril of their lives. Mr. Toure said in 1948 when UN peacekeeping operations began all of them were men drawn from Europe and America. Currently there was increasingly women presence at peacekeeping operations. "The point is not to achieve gender parity but to draw in the unique and powerful contribution women can make," he noted. He said women offered services such as human right monitors, and other mission staff that offered new skills and styles of functioning in the ever-evolving field of peacekeeping. He said women frequently suffered most during conflicts such as horrific sexual acts and gender based violence adding that by including women, "we foster safe environment for victims and the help they deserve".

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Mr Toure urged member countries to contribute more female personnel to the UN because women serving on missions were very few. "On this international day let us draw on the power of women to strengthen the UN peacekeeping while helping women and girls themselves to transform their destinies and societies for the better," he said. Dr Appiah Kubi, Deputy Minister of the Interior, thanked the peacekeeping contingents, which included women from the police service for their dedication and humanitarian services. He said when it came to women in peacekeeping Ghana was the second highest contributor in the world. Dr Kubi said women did the same work as men in peacekeeping operations in difficult environments.

Four wreaths were laid - Dr Appiah laid the first on behalf of the people of Ghana while Mr. Toure laid the second on behalf of the UN. Major General Peter Blay laid one on behalf of the Security Services as Mrs Margaret Danso Archer, widow of Capt. Dr. Isaac Archer, laid the last one on behalf of the fallen heroes and their families.

Source: GNA
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