Commemorating United Nations Day alongside UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, Secretary-General António Guterres paid tribute to the sacrifices made by uniformed personnel in the service of peace, including the Moroccan contingent, which lost some of its members in the line of duty.
Guterres, who visited the Bangassou local base of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) Wednesday, laid a wreath of flowers in tribute to the two soldiers of the Royal Armed Forces contingent (FAR) killed in an attack on their convoy, as well as to four Cambodian peacekeepers also killed earlier this year, said his spokesman in New York, Farhan Haq.
In an address on this occasion, the UN secretary-general expressed his “gratitude” to the military and police contingents present in Bangassou.
Guterres regretted the death of the Moroccan and Cambodian soldiers “who sacrificed their lives for the defense of the rights and security of the Central African people”.
“I had the opportunity to speak to HM the King of Morocco and to convey to him my condolences to the Moroccan people, and I want to do it here in a direct way to all the colleagues and heroic soldiers who have fallen for the defense of peace,” Guterres said.
On Tuesday, Guterres had attended a wreath-laying ceremony for peacekeepers in the country’s capital, Bangui, on Tuesday, during which he stressed the need “to make sure that the world fully appreciates the heroic contributions of peacekeepers protecting civilians, sometimes in extremely difficult circumstances, like the ones we face in the Central African Republic”.
‘Blue helmets,’ as UN peacekeepers are informally known, work where sometimes the peace is elusive, which means that they die, are wounded, and sacrifice their lives to protect civilians,” he said, reiterating the need to strengthen the UN peacekeeping mission, so it can better protect the population.
Guterres also lauded UN staff in the Central African Republic saying that their “sacrifice is something that the UN will always honor.”
At a press briefing he held after meeting with President Faustin Archange Touadéra and members of his Government in Bangui on Wednesday, called on the international community to show solidarity in helping the crisis-torn country chart a new future while warning against religious divide.
He called for the active engagement of the international community in the country because “there is an opportunity to build a new Central African Republic that is peaceful, secure and prosperous.”
Morocco is contributing 1470 peacekeepers in MINUSCA, which has a total of 12,870 uniformed personnel including 10,750 military personnel and 2,080 police personnel.
MINUSCA has been tasked to protect the civilian population from threat of physical violence, support the political transition process and the efforts seeking to address root causes of the conflict and establish lasting peace and security in the CAR.