The United Nations on Thursday honoured two Nigerians and 101 other military, police and civilian peacekeepers, who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2022.
The two Nigerians are Police Sergeant Nasiru Bawa, and Police Inspector Saratu Haruna, who both served with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, received the awards on behalf of the fallen heroes.
The fallen heroes were posthumously awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal during an award ceremony to mark the 2023 International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers at UN headquarters in New York.
The International Day of UN Peacekeepers was established by the UN 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.
In his message, the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said: “United Nations peacekeepers are the beating heart of our commitment to a more peaceful world.
“For 75 years, they have supported people and communities rocked by conflicts and upheavals across the globe.
“Today, on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, we honour their extraordinary contributions to international peace and security.”
Also speaking, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said: “Peacekeeping is a powerful example of how strong partnerships and collective political will can result in meaningful change.
“Working together with local communities and other partners, our personnel protect civilians, advance political solutions, and help end conflicts in the pursuit of sustainable peace.
“We appreciate the support of all stakeholders to ensure that UN Peacekeeping can continue to work as an effective multilateral tool for global peace and security.”
The Secretary-General will also present the 2022 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award to Captain Cecilia Erzuah, a military officer from Ghana who served with the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
Created in 2016, the Award “recognizes the dedication and effort of an individual peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security”.
NAN reports that the award ceremony also marked the 75th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping.
In 1948, the historic decision was made to deploy military observers to the Middle East to supervise the implementation of Israel-Arab Armistice Agreements, in what became the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization.
Since that time, more than two million peacekeepers from 125 countries have since served in 71 operations around the world. Today, 87,000 women and men are serving in 12 conflict zones across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Nigeria is currently the 43rd largest contributor to UN peace operations with more than 300 military and police personnel serving in Abyei, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Mali, South Sudan and Western Sahara.
NAN reports that Guterres laid a wreath to honour the more than 4,200 UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives since 1948