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International Day of UN Peacekeepers,
29 May 2010

Wreath-laying Ceremony, UN Headquarters, 28 May 2010

Remarks by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro

Excellencies, Peacekeepers, Ladies and gentlemen,

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

Ladies and gentlemen,

On my travels, I have seen the best of the United Nations in the field. Nothing has impressed me more than our courageous peacekeepers. 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 we 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 goes 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 terrible day this January, 101 members of the UN family, from 29 countries, were killed when Haiti was struck by a catastrophic earthquake. Ninety-six of them were peacekeepers.

It was the biggest single loss of life in the history of UN peacekeeping. We will never forget the pain and sorrow of January 12, 2010.

Many of us lost friends and valued colleagues on that day. People who inspired with their dedication, their professionalism, their warm spirits, 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 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 UN promise: to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.

Thank you.

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