A solemn flag-raising and wreath laying ceremony has been observed to mark the 71st International Day of UN Peacekeepers at the forecourt of the State House on Wednesday 29 May 2019.
The theme for this year’s ceremony: ‘Protecting Civilians, Protecting Peace’ is intended to mark the upcoming 20th anniversary when for the first time, the Security Council explicitly mandated a peacekeeping mission, United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to protect civilians.
In a speech read on behalf of the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, the Acting Resident Coordinator who also doubles as the Head of World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Owen Kaluwa, said over the past 20 years, protection of civilians had increasingly been at the heart of UN peacekeeping. He noted that 90% of UN peacekeepers serving in eight peacekeeping operations in the world had protection of civilians’ mandates. “These peacekeepers put themselves in harm’s way to protect civilians from violence every day,” he stressed.
Dr Kaluwa revealed that the Secretary-General had launched a new initiative, “Action for Peacekeeping (A4P)”, which objective is to call for a refocused peacekeeping with realistic expectations, thereby, making peacekeeping missions stronger and safer, and mobilizing greater support for political solutions and for well-structured, well-equipped and well-trained forces.
He continued that over 150 Member States and Regional Organisations had endorsed and demonstrated a high level of support for the A4P initiative.
In his address, the Minister for Defence, Hon Dominic Nitiwul, on behalf of the government of Ghana, expressed his appreciation to Ghanaian Uniform and Civilian Men and Women, who continuously make the country proud through selfless service in times of peacekeeping.
The Minister urged all Africans to work together and guard themselves against any threats that would undermine the aspirations of every citizen and the rest of the world.
He said the immense contribution and sacrifices of the families of peacekeepers to the overall peacekeeping architecture, particularly the UN, could not be over-emphasised. He therefore expressed his deepest condolences to the families of fallen peacekeepers who had endured the pain of losing their relatives for the cause of peace.
A one-minute silence was observed and a number of wreaths were laid to honour the fallen heroes. Hon Dominic Nitiwul laid the first wreath on behalf of government and people of Ghana. Dr Owen Kaluwa laid the second wreath on behalf of the United Nations, the third wreath was laid by the Deputy Minister for Defence, Hon Derrick Oduro (Rtd) on behalf of Security Services and the last wreath was laid by the wife of the late ACP Frank Sammy Kwofie, Mrs Emma Kwofie, on behalf of the families of all fallen heroes.