A Tribute to Blue Helmets on the International Day of UN Peacekeepers

  •  united nations
  • Inter Press Service

'The difference between an ordinary person and a hero is that the hero voluntarily braves danger to save others', Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said during the official morning ceremony at the UN headquarters. On Tuesday, May 29, the international day of United Nations peacekeepers, UN officials commemorated the 149 peacekeepers that have died since 2011, before praising the work of those currently working in difficult areas.

Following the ceremony was a press conference with UN Under- Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and Assistant Secretary-General Tony Banbury discussing peacekeeping and the current situation in Syria. They reiterated their strong support for the deployment of peacekeeping forces, who 'definitely mitigate violence' in difficult areas, according to Ladsous, explaining that heavy weapons were often pulled back in the areas where the UN forces were deployed.

Addressing the legitimacy of peacekeeping, for which 8.0 billion dollars are spent each year, the UN officials insisted that there were no other alternatives: 'There is no plan B', Ladsous told journalists. Banbury added that even if this was 'money very well spent', they were complying with the Secretary-General’s demand to 'do more with less' given the current financial circumstances, and had already reduced their annual budget by 400 million dollars while still improving the services provided.

Turning to Syria and the recent appalling massacre in El- Houleh, the UN officials stated that observers found that some of the civilians had been killed by heavy weapons, 'which pointed ever so clearly to responsibility on the part of the Government'.

On Wednesday, after a briefing of the Security Council on Syria, the Permanent Representative of Syria to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, accused armed terrorist groups, allegedly financed by neighbouring countries, of carrying out these 'heinous crimes', and brushed off rumors accusing his government, saying that an investigation carried out by Syria would give all the answers in the coming days.

He then stated that some of his counterparts were not acting responsibly and added that 'if the (Security) Council was really united, (it) would have finished dealing with Syria a long time ago.'

© Inter Press Service (2012) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service