El Fasher — Peacekeepers from the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) today celebrated the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers in El Fasher, North Darfur. Held under the theme 'A force for peace, a force for change, and a force for the future,' the event was attended by UNAMID Joint Special Representative (JSR), Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Deputy Wali (Governor) of North Darfur, Al Fatih Abdulaziz, along with military, police and civilian personnel from UNAMID and the Government of Sudan police officials.
The programme in El Fasher opened with a military and police parade, lowering of the AU and UN flags and the observance of a minute of silence as well as a wreath-laying ceremony to honour those peacekeepers who had lost their lives in the line of duty. It also included cultural activities by UNAMID contingents and local songs by students from the Zain Al Abideen primary school.
Mr. Chambas conveyed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message on the occasion. The statement highlighted the history of UN peacekeeping operations which have spanned more than 70 operations on four continents since its establishment in 1948. "Looking to the future, we can be confident that as new challenges emerge, United Nations peacekeeping will evolve to meet them," said Mr. Ban in his message.
The Secretary-General also commended military, police and civilian peacekeepers for their commitment to stabilising communities, protecting civilians, promoting rule of law and advancing human rights. He also expressed grief for those peacekeepers who had lost their lives while serving the cause of peace. "Last year, 106 peacekeepers perished carrying out their duty under the UN flag, bringing the total number of lives lost in the history of peacekeeping to more than 3,200. We mourn the passing of every one of these courageous individuals," said Mr. Ban.
The UN Head also underscored the changing nature of peacekeeping in contemporary times. "United Nations peacekeeping is modernising to ensure that it can tackle tomorrow's peace and security challenges," he said. "It is deploying new technologies such as unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles, refining its practices to better protect civilians, and boosting the representation of women among its ranks while strengthening its partnerships with regional organizations," he added.
Addressing the gathering, the Deputy Wali (Governor), Mr. Al Fatih Abdulaziz, commended UNAMID's efforts to bring about peace in Darfur. "We commend the men and women who have sacrificed to contribute to peace. Peace is the ultimate goal; it is only through peace that the world can enjoy a better, more secure life," he said. A total of 58 peacekeepers have lost their lives due to hostile action in Darfur since the inception of the Mission in December 2007.
Similar celebrations took place in other Darfur's states.