29 May 2018. A flag-raising and wreath laying ceremony has been held on Tuesday, 29 May, 2018 at the forecourt of the State House to commemorate the International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers.
The day which marked the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations Peacekeeping was observed under the theme “United Nations Peacekeepers: 70 Years of Service and Sacrifice.”
The United Nations Resident Coordinator (UN RC), Her Excellency (HE) Christine Evans – Klock, in her address, read out part the UN Secretary General’s message on the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. “… As we recognize a legacy of service and sacrifice around the world, I am also committed to taking action for peacekeeping – action to make our operations safer and more effective in today’s challenging environments. We are also committed to reinforcing the important role our forces must play in promoting human rights and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse…”
She stated that the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has set out a Zero Tolerance Policy on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse across the entire UN System. Emphasizing that increasingly, women were targets of violence and abuse in conflict situations. In making reference to Assistant Police Inspector of Police, Annah Chota from Zimbabwe, she mentioned that it was apparent for the UN to recruit uniformed women to help protect women in conflict areas. The goal, she said was for women to make up twenty percent (20%) of the UN Police by 2020.
She added that Secretary General has launched the Action for Peacekeeping Initiative to reduce fatalities, improve the performance of Missions, flexibly adapt to different threat environments, and improve training, equipment and enhance leadership.
She also introduced a communication campaign called “UN Peacekeeping: Service and Sacrifice”; which the UN has launched and was geared towards increasing public awareness and appreciation of UN Peacekeepers.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and the Review Officer, Honorable Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey on behalf of the Government of Ghana expressed her appreciation to the Ghanaian uniformed and civilian men and women, who continued to make the country proud through selfless service during these operations.
In her speech, she stated that the government had taken a serious view to the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. “As a member of the UN Secretary – General’s Circle of Leadership against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has made a personal commitment to help in preventing sexual exploitation and abuse. She assured that government would take swift punitive measures against troop or civilian personnel who were proven to have misconducted themselves while on peacekeeping operations.
She reminded all present that the attainment of peace was a collective effort by all stake holders; therefore, Ghanaians should work together to guard against threats that would undermine the aspirations of the citizens of Ghana and the rest of the world.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal which was a posthumous award given by the United Nations to military personnel, police and civilians who lose their lives while serving in a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation was awarded to the late S/Sgt Anyik Boniface and late L/Cpl Sakyi Emmanuel. They were received by representatives from their families at the occassion. However, the Civilian UN Peacekeeper, Mr Victor Amegbor would be awarded on Friday 1 June in New York. He died on 6 January 2017 while serving with the UN – Africa Union Mission in Dafur.
Tribute was also paid to Cpl Mercy Adade, who served in the Ghanaian contingent with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and passed away on 5th April this year.
There was the sounding of the last post, followed by a minute silence in honour of the fallen heroes with the raising of the Ghana and UN flags concurrently. Wreaths were laid by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the UN RC, the Minister for Defence, Honorable Dominic Nitiwul, and the two representatives of the families of the fallen heroes, who were awarded.
Other dignitaries present were the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Service Chiefs, the Chief of Staff, Diplomatic Corps and Chiefs from the Ga Traditional Council.