Two SL Peacekeepers among those honoured by UN

58

Captain Hamangoda Wasantha Dinesh Jayawickrame and Corporal Sakralage Samantha Wijekumara of the Sri Lanka Army, who both lost their lives in 2018 while serving with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), were among the fallen peacekeepers to be posthumously awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Medal, the UN said.

UN Headquarters observed the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on Friday (25).

The UN said that UN Secretary-General António Guterres, would lay a wreath to honour all UN peacekeepers, who have lost their lives since 1948 and would preside over a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal would be awarded posthumously to 119 military, Police and civilian peacekeepers, who lost their lives in 2018 and early 2019.

Sri Lanka is currently the 32nd largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping.  It currently contributes 676 military and police personnel to the UN peacekeeping operations in Abyei, the Central African Republic, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, South Sudan and the Western Sahara.

During a special ceremony, the Secretary-General will award the “Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage” posthumously to Private Chancy Chitete of Malawi. Private Chitete served with the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and was killed last year while saving the life of a fellow peacekeeper from Tanzania who had been badly wounded during an operation against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which was aimed to stop attacks on local towns and to prevent the disruption of the Ebola response. His comrade survived, and Private Chitete’s heroism and sacrifice helped the peacekeepers achieve their objective of protecting civilians and forcing the ADF to withdraw from the area. It is planned that Private Chitete’s family will receive the medal on his behalf during the Peacekeepers’ Day commemorations in New York.

The global theme for this year’s commemoration is ‘Protecting Civilians, Protecting Peace’. In his message, the Secretary-General’s said: “This year, the United Nations marks 20 years since the Security Council first mandated a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians. Peacekeepers protect men, women and children from violence every day, often at great personal risk.”

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002, to pay tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping, and to honour the
memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

While the Day will be marked at UNHQ on the 24th, UN missions and offices around the world will commemorate the Day on 29 May, the UN said.