Three Kenyans were among the fallen United Nations peacekeepers honoured on Wednesday in a ceremony at the world body’s headquarters in New York.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres paid tribute to 117 uniformed personnel and civilians who lost their lives last year while serving under the UN flag.
Included in their number were Corporals Joseph Kandie and Albert Nziu Muthui, both of whom served with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss), and Charles Nyawara Sidede, a civilian staff member of the UN operation in Cote d’Ivoire.
“Those we honour today died while protecting the world’s most vulnerable people and supporting countries in making the difficult transition from conflict to peace,” Mr Guterres declared.
“They are the best of all of us, and we must always pay tribute to their sacrifice that is a demonstration of the courage and generosity that the United Nations needs to present in today’s world.”
A total of 62 Kenyans have died in UN peacekeeping roles since independence. More than 3,500 peacekeepers in all “have given their lives to rescue other lives” in the years since the UN’s founding in 1948, Mr Guterres noted.
Kenya currently contributes 259 of its citizens to seven UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
Most of the Kenyan troops, police officials and military experts are assigned either to Unmiss or to the mission in Sudan’s Darfur region.
The UN today deploys a total of nearly 96,000 uniformed personnel in 16 peacekeeping missions in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean.
“There are risks when deploying peacekeepers to a crisis area, but inaction may carry even greater risks,” Mr Guterres remarked during a wreath-laying ceremony that included a moment of silence.
“We are still learning hard lessons from the Rwanda genocide,” the secretary-general said.