28 May 2010
Deputy Secretary-General

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General, at Ceremony to Commemorate Fallen United Nations


Peacekeepers, Says 2009 Death Toll Was 0ne of Highest Ever


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks today, 28 May, at the wreath-laying ceremony for the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, observed on 29 May:

Thank you all for coming here today.  Let us begin by observing a minute of silence for our fallen colleagues.

Our courageous peacekeepers are among the best of what the United Nations has to offer.  This is a day to celebrate their remarkable contributions.  They do so much more than keeping the peace:  they build bridges; they earn trust; they help societies heal the wounds of war.

But today we also remember the terrible price they pay for their critical but dangerous work.  We mourn our heroes who have died in the service of peace.  Some of those who died were your friends, your colleagues, your loved ones.

My heart, and that of the Secretary-General, go out to each of you, and to all the families and friends of those who have died.

The International Day of Peacekeepers is always a bittersweet occasion, when celebration is mixed with mourning.  This year’s observance is even more poignant than most.  One hundred and twenty one peacekeepers lost their lives in 2009 — one of the highest tolls ever.  And on one day, this January, 101 members of the United Nations family, from 29 countries, were killed when Haiti was struck by an earthquake.  Ninety-six of them were peacekeepers.

It was the biggest single loss of life in the history of United Nations peacekeeping.  We will never forget the pain and sorrow of 12 January 2010.  We lost friends and valued colleagues on that day.  People who inspired with their dedication, their professionalism, their spirit, and their shining example.

They may be gone, but their spirit of service lives on.  I saw it during my recent visit to Haiti.  Our staff are dealing with the devastation with perseverance and hope.  They are determined to continue the mission that their colleagues started, and gave their lives for.

And I know the spirit of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is echoed in our missions all over the world — from Afghanistan to Darfur, from Timor-Leste to Liberia, from the Middle East to Central Africa.

More than 120,000 peacekeepers serve in our 15 peacekeeping operations.  Today, we thank you all.  You are keeping the United Nations promise:  to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.

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For information media • not an official record