UNA-UK International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers Day observed

Ansar Ahmed Ullah
Contributing Editor,Shottobani

London: The United Nations Association of the UK (UNA-UK) held a poignant wreath-laying ceremony at The Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, on 23 May 2024, commemorating the 76th anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping. This solemn event honoured the sacrifices and dedication of peacekeepers worldwide, who have been vital in maintaining global peace and security since the inception of UN peacekeeping in 1948.

The ceremony began with an address by David Wardrop, Chair of the Westminster United Nations Association, followed by a prayer led by Reverend Mark Perry, Chaplain to the Royal Air Force. The bugler sounded the Last Post, and the United Nations flag was ceremoniously lowered. After a moment of silence, the bugler sounded Reveille, signalling the continuation of peacekeeping efforts.

Wreaths were laid by distinguished representatives to honour various contributions to peacekeeping Colin Stewart, on behalf of UNFICYP, Astrid Bernadotte, in memory of Count Folke Bernadotte Vice Admiral Hervé Hamelin, in memory of Commandant René de Labarrière Kieron Ryan, representing former UN servicemen and women Lt. Col. Ben Parkyn, for serving UK contingent deployments Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, for His Majesty’s Government Air Vice-Marshall Rich Pratley, for His Majesty’s Armed Forces Chief Constable Gavin Stephens, for His Majesty’s Police Forces Members of the Diplomatic Corps in London Laura Robbins, for widows of UN peacekeepers Tekeste Tekie, for the British Association of Former UN Civil Servants Frances Chambers, for the United Nations Association of the UK Mozmil Hussain, for UNA Groups Pupils from Grey Coat Hospital School for Girls and Westminster City School for Boys, for the Children of the World United Nations Peacekeeping.

With over 62,000 peacekeepers deployed globally, the UN’s mission remains crucial in protecting civilians and promoting peace. Currently, 11 peacekeeping operations run at an annual cost of approximately $6 billion, a fraction of global military expenditure. This year, UNFICYP marks its 60th anniversary, having deployed 150,000 troops and losing 187 peacekeepers in Cyprus since 1964.

The ceremony also paid tribute to the 4,370 UN peacekeepers from 120 nations who have lost their lives in the line of duty, including 106 Britons. This day of remembrance began in 2003, marking the start of the first peacekeeping mission in Palestine on 29 May 1948.

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