Peacekeepers help transform "battlefields into peaceful states": Guterres

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Secretary-General António Guterres (right) lays a wreath in honour of all peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag. UN Photo/Mark Garten

The UN Secretary-General paid tribute to the "courage, generosity and dedication" of blue helmets on Thursday and thanked them for their sacrifice.

António Guterres delivered his message during the annual wreath-laying ceremony at UN headquarters in New York in honour of fallen peacekeepers, more than 3,500 of whom have died in the line of duty since 1948.

On 29 May, the UN will observe the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres began by expressing his deepest condolences and appreciation to the family members and friends of those who died in the service of peace.

He also hailed the Member States for their strong support to UN peacekeeping operations by providing uniformed personnel to serve under the Organization's flag.

 "Our mission for peace will never succeed without courageous people willing to put their lives on the line and we owe you an enormous debt. Today we remember not only our uniformed personnel, but civilian peacekeepers who have fallen — international civil servants, national staff members and UN Volunteers. Our missions would not function without their work, and we honour their sacrifice."

Peacekeepers continue to come under attack from armed groups and increasingly by terrorists, the UN chief warned, recalling the recent attacks against UN soldiers in Mali, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Meanwhile, the UN recently announced the closure of its peace operations in Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia over the coming months.

Mr Guterres said it was a reminder of the sacrifices made by peacekeepers to help transform these countries "from battlefields to peaceful states." 

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’55″

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