By the Department of Information and Public Affairs -Sierra Leone Mission to the UN :
One hundred and twelve fallen United Nations Peacekeepers, including four Sierra Leoneans, were honoured posthumously yesterday in two moving but auspicious ceremonies held at the UN Headquarters in New York as part of the observance of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers .
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon honoring the 112 peacekeepers at the wreath-laying ceremony
In the first ceremony attended by families, diplomats and top brass of the UN Peacekeeping Force at the precints of the General Assembly , a wreath was laid on behalf of the 112 fallen heroes by the UN Secretary General, H.E. Ban Ki- Moon. This was followed two hours later by another program at the Dag Hammerskjeold Amphitheatre where Secretary General Ki-Moon awarded the Dag Hammarskjeold medals of honour posthumously to the victims .
According to a public release by the UN Peacekeeping Integrated Office in Sierra Leone ( UNIPSIL ), ”The 4 Sierra Leoneans are among some 112 peacekeepers (military, police and civilian) who died last year “as a result of hostile acts, accidents and disease.”. They included two soldiers and two police who died while serving the UN-AU Mission in Darfur, Sudan. Their names are : Gibril Sheku Mansaray, who died on 5 August 2011; and Lance Corporal Ahmed THOMAS, who died on 6 November 2011; Police Inspector Isatu Agnes BANGURA, who died on 5 April 2011; and Police Officer Patrick JABBAH, who died on 21 February 2011.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, at the wreath -laying program , solemnly observed : “Today we honour the 112 fallen heroes who died while serving under the United Nations flag in 2011…They may be soldiers, police or national staff. But there are no differences among them in terms of the risks they faced, the contributions they made, and the pride they took in their service to the United Nations..The difference between an ordinary person and a hero is that the hero voluntarily braves danger to save others.”
SEC. GEN. BAN KI-MOON GIVES HIS ADDRESS BEFORE AWARDING THE MEDALS
THE MEDAL AWARDS PROGRAM IS ON : THE MEDALS ARE IN BLUE BOXES
MILITARY ADVISER RON HARLESTON AND MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY KABS-KANU SHAKING HANDS WITH THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL AFTER THE PRESENTATION OF THE MEDALS FOR THE 4 SIERRA LEONE PEACEKEEPERS
SIERRA LEONE’S MILITARY ADVISER COL. RON HARLESTON WITH THE SPANISH CONTIGENT
THE SIERRA LEONE MILITARY ADVISER AND MINISTER PLEN. POSE WITH NIGERIA’S MILITARY ADVISER
The Secretary General noted further : “Today we also thank the 120,000 United Nations peacekeepers who are out there — right now — getting aid to people in crisis, reuniting families torn by war and helping develop sustainable rule of law and security sector institutions. I have seen the dedication of peacekeepers in missions and in training centres. I am always impressed by the women and men who do their best to serve the cause of peace. ” Continuing , he said : “Our goal in peacekeeping is to bring lasting stability to troubled areas so that “Blue Helmets” are no longer needed. We would like to put ourselves out of business. But until that day comes, we stand ready to help, carrying on the work of those we remember today.”
The medal awards ceremony was jampacked by military and police officers from the affected countries , dressed in full ceremonial attire. Many of them were peacekeepers assigned at the UN Headquarters while others were military advisers attached to their respective Permanent Missions in New York.
Before he handed out the medals to Ambassadors or miliray advisers representing their respective Missions, Mr. Ki-Moon stated : “Sadly, this marks the fourth year in a row that more than 100 peacekeepers lost their lives in the line of duty. I offer my heartfelt condolences to their families, friends and countries. You in this room represent the Governments that contribute these forces — and bear the losses. I am deeply grateful to you for engaging in this global partnership. I share your sorrow for these colleagues and friends — and your determination to carry on their work for peace. Today we remember 112 lives cut short. They remind us of the risks of peacekeeping. But today I also want to remember the rewards ” .
Sierra Leone was represented at the two ceremonies by the Minister Plenipotentiary , Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu and the military adviser , Col. Ronnie Harleston. The Minister represented Permanent representative Ambassador Shekou Touray, who was slated to receive the medals on behalf of Sierra Leone but was away on official duties.