UNAMID observes Peacekeepers Day
El Fasher, 28 May 2009 – The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) marked the International Day of UN Peacekeepers today with a series of events celebrating the efforts of UNAMID’s thousands of military troops, police officers and civilian staff to bring peace to Darfur.
With a parade, speeches, music performances and information booths, the Mission held events to promote the cause of peace and particularly emphasize the role that women can play in achieving that goal.
This year’s theme for the Day is “Women in peacekeeping: the power to empower”, and many of UNAMID’s female peacekeepers – troops, military observers, staff officers, police officers and members of formed police units (FPUs) – took part in a march-past before local VIPs at a sports stadium in El Fasher, North Darfur.
The Joint Special Representative, Mr. Rodolphe Adada, read out the message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marking the Day, in which he noted the “unique and powerful contribution” that female peacekeepers bring to the job and called on countries to contribute more female personnel to missions worldwide.
“Female blue helmets, human rights monitors and other mission staff offer new skills and styles of functioning in the ever-evolving field of peacekeeping,” the message said. “Often, they can better communicate with local women, generating a greater sense of security while serving as an example of women’s empowerment.”
Participants in today’s ceremony observed a minute’s silence for those peacekeepers that have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Last year, 13 UNAMID peacekeepers were killed because of hostile actions.
The Outreach Unit of UNAMID’s Communication and Public Information Division also launched a week-long programme called “Ibtasim (Smile) Darfur” in which local artists are spreading the importance of peace in the region.
The International Day for UN Peacekeepers is observed on 29 May each year, but this year that falls on a Friday, the first day of the weekend in Sudan.