The Sri Lankan Army officers, who both lost their lives while serving with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), are among the fallen peacekeepers to be posthumously awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Medal, according to a media release issued by the UN.
Late Major H.W.D. Jayawickrama and Sergeant S.S. Wijekumara were killed in an IED attack during the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali.
The General Assembly, in its resolution 57/129, designated May 29th as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. However, the UN Headquarters in New York observed the Day on the 24th of May.
The Secretary-General has presided over a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of all peacekeepers, who have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag last year, the UN stated.
In addition, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal was awarded posthumously to the peacekeepers, who perished while serving in the cause of peace in 2018, the UN added.
The International Day of UN Peacekeepers, 29 May, pays tribute to the uniformed and civilians personnel’s “invaluable contribution to the work of the Organization” and honours more than 3,800 peacekeepers, who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948.
This year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers, themed “Protecting Civilians, Protecting Peace”, marks 20 years since the Security Council first mandated a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians, according to the UN.
Meanwhile, the Army stated that Sri Lanka is currently the 32nd largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping.
Currently, 676 local military and police personnel have been deployed to the UN peacekeeping operations in Abyei, the Central African Republic, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, South Sudan and Western Sahara, the Army further said.