In Mali, Guterres honours dedication and sacrifice of UN peacekeepers

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In Mali, Guterres honours dedication and sacrifice of UN peacekeepers

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Mali on Tuesday, to honour the service and sacrifice of peacekeepers around the world, and mark the official International Day of UN Peacekeepers.


The north-west African country is the most dangerous place in the world to be a UN ‘blue helmet’, and last year, 21 troops serving with the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) lost their lives, together with seven civilians.

“I want to thank you very much for this effort, these sacrifices, to pay tribute to you, and to say how proud I am to work with you” — UN chief, António Guterres

UN News has a team in Mali to cover the special visit, and shortly after arriving in the capital, Bamako, the Secretary-General attended a poignant ceremony at MINUSMA’s base in the capital, to pay tribute to fallen peacekeepers. He laid a wreath at the memorial inside the camp, engraved with the names of those killed in the service of peace.

“Dear peacekeepers, you have demonstrated that you are capable of all forms of sacrifice. For many of your colleagues, this has meant the supreme sacrifice of giving their lives, to protect the lives of Malian civilians,” Mr. Guterres said at the ceremony. “I want to thank you very much for this effort, these sacrifices, to pay tribute to you, and to say how proud I am to work with you”.

“As peacekeepers, you are the foremost symbol of the United Nations itself”, he added.

UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Secretary-General António Guterres lays a wreath to honor peacekeepers killed in the line of duty while serving with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The ceremony took place at a MINUSMA Operational Base in Bamako.

 

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Mali, and Head of MINUSMA, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, said that honouring the fallen “warms the hearts of their comrades and encourages us to continue to defend even more resolutely the values ​​of the United Nations”.

Medals for two peacekeepers

Mr. Guterres also awarded medals to two peacekeepers serving with the mission, for their outstanding service: Commander Olufunmilayo Ajibike Amodu, from Nigeria, and Major Mohammad Badrul Ahsan Khan, from Bangladesh, a military staff officer based at Force headquarters.

“The medal is very important. It symbolizes what it is to be a peacekeeper at MINUSMA”, said Commander Amodu, in an interview for UN News. “Receiving it from the Secretary-General is a very unique privilege.”