UNFICYP commemorates International Day of Peacekeepers

The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) on Monday paid tribute to all the UN peacekeepers deployed in 16 missions around the world and honoured the memory of those who have lost their lives while serving, on the occasion of the International Day of Peacekeepers.

A hundred and eighty � six UN peacekeepers have lost their lives in Cyprus in the 53 years of UNFICYP.

According to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres demand for UN peacekeepers has risen steadily over the years, and deployment is now near an all-time high.

In his message, read out during a ceremony held at the UNFICYP Headquarters in the buffer zone, Guterres said that to date, fifty-four UN peace operations have completed their mandates and two more, in Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia, will soon close, joining a long list of successful operations in Angola, Cambodia, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and elsewhere.

The Secretary General noted that today’s peacekeeping budget — less than one half of one per cent of global military spending — is money well spent and added that we are constantly finding ways to reform, restructure and drive costs down.

He stressed that peacekeeping operations have evolved from simply monitoring ceasefires to protecting civilians, disarming ex-combatants, protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law, supporting free and fair elections, minimizing the risk of land-mines and much more. They also work to ensure that women are fully represented in peace processes, political life, and in branches of government.

The Special Representative of the Secretary General in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, noted that UNFICYP’s work has never been more important than it is today. With critical talks to reunify the island in the ‘final mile’, your efforts are indispensable to maintain calm and law and order in the buffer zone, promote dialogue and trust between Cypriot communities and more broadly, to create conditions conducive to successful negotiations.

UNFICYP’s role is important, but, like all missions, it is meant to be finite the Special Representative noted and added that each peacekeeping mission must anticipate and adapt to change. And ‘the winds of change’ are upon us, both on the island and in the United Nations Headquarters Spehar said.

UNFICYP’s work is complex and embodies various challenges, yet we are fortunate that the island remains largely peaceful she added.

Mohammad Humayun Kabir, UNFICYP’s Force Commander, said that during its 53 years, UNFICYP has recorded 186 fatalities in total, with 171 of these being military personnel.

Peacekeepers in Cyprus and elsewhere in the world are always in the front line putting their lives at risk, in an effort to bring peace to millions he said. Although Cyprus is relatively calm compared to conflicts around the world and even within this region, as Force Commander it is my priority to ensure our troops are well prepared for all scenarios he noted.

More than 3.500 peacekeepers have lost their lives while serving. Last year, 117 peacekeepers perished. So far in 2017, twelve peacekeepers have been killed.

Source: Cyprus News Agency