UN Peacekeepers service and sacrifice hailed in Egypt
17 June 2021
For decades, Egypt has been a key contributor to UN Peacekeeping.
Cairo - Celebrating decades of service and sacrifice of Egyptian women and men in peacekeeping operations, Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the United Nations in Egypt, organized a ceremony on Thursday, June 17, to commemorate the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.
Attended by H.E. Sameh Shoukry, Foreign Minister of Egypt, Ms. Elena Panova, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Egypt, Major General Samer Kamal, Assistant Chief of Military Intelligence Authority (Ministry of Defense), Major General Tarek Awad, Director of the Egyptian Center for Training on Peacekeeping Operations- Ministry of Interior, along with a diverse spectrum of guests representing UN agencies in Egypt and the Diplomatic community, the event highlighted the key role Egypt – a founding member of the UN - has been playing in support peacekeeping operations since 1960.
“The International Day of UN Peacekeepers represents a key moment to reaffirm Egypt’s strong belief in the UN Charter goals and principles, as well as its commitment to cooperation with all partners to support the foundations of global stability and peace,” Said Mr. Sameh Shoukry.
The event was also an occasion to pay tribute to peacekeepers from Egypt who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving under the flag of the UN last year: From the Ministry of Defense; Sgt. Ahmed Mohsen Mohammed, Cpl Islam Mahmoud Ismail, Pvt Mohammed Elamir, Sgt Ahmed Mahmoud Rizk who served with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); and from the Egyptian Police, Col. Said Lotfy Youssef and Police WO Abdelwanis Rahoma who was with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
Foreign Minister Shoukry said: “to Egyptian women and men serving in peacekeeping operations under the flags of the UN, who make valuable contributions to achieve peace and stability around the world: Egypt – and the whole world – recognize and appreciate your contributions. You represent Egypt’s firm commitment to and persistent work for a more secure and stable world. Your noble services will never be forgotten.”
Egypt is the 7th largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping. It currently deploys nearly 3,100 military and police personnel to the UN peace operations in Abyei, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan and the Western Sahara.
“Egypt has been a consistent and a reliable contributor to peacekeeping,” Said Ms. Elena Panova. “This contribution is recognized globally. And the re-election of Egypt as rapporteur of the UN special peacekeeping operations committee and its election as Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission earlier this year demonstrate this recognition.”
This year, the challenges and threats faced by our peacekeepers are even greater than ever as they, like people around the world, are having to cope not only with the COVID-19 pandemic but also the continued requirement to support and protect the people in the countries in which they are based.
The theme for this year’s observance is “The road to a lasting peace: Leveraging the power of youth for peace and security.” It recognizes the major role played by tens of thousands of young peacekeepers (between the ages of 18 and 29 years) who are deployed around the world today and play a major role in helping the missions implement their mandated activities including the protection of civilians.
“Countries will not be able to address conflict prevention and resolution in an inclusive and sustainable manner without taking into account young people’s perspectives in planning and decision making.” Ms. Elena Panova noted. “The UN Security Council Resolution #2250 on Youth, Peace and Security is a landmark as it acknowledges the important role youth can play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts,” she added
Part of the event, Lieutenant Colonel Pharmacist May Omar, a peacekeeper from the Egyptian Armed Forces, delivered a speech, exploring here experience serving with UN peacekeeping and explaining how women participation can contribute towards a more effective peacekeeping.
The event included a documentary by the Ministry of Defense that highlights Egypt’s leading role in maintaining peace and security within UN peace operations. The documentary also featured the multi-faceted work of Egyptian women and men in blue helmets, including protecting civilians; preventing conflicts; strengthening rule of law; empowering women; promoting human rights; and delivering field support.
The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, 29 May, offers a chance to pay tribute to the uniformed and civilian personnel’s invaluable contribution to the work of the Organization and to honor more than 4,000 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948, including 130 last year.
The first UN peacekeeping mission was established on 29 May 1948, when the Security Council authorized the deployment of a small number of UN military observers to the Middle East to form the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Since then, more than 1 million women and men have served in 72 UN peacekeeping operations, directly impacting the lives of millions of people and saving countless lives. Today, UN Peacekeeping deploys more than 89,000 military, police and civilian personnel in ;12 operations.