NEW YORK, May 26 (ChinaMil) -- The United Nations held a wreath-laying ceremony honouring fallen peacekeepers in observance of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers (29 May) on May 24 at the UN headquarters in New York, and awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal to peacekeepers, including three Chinese peacekeepers, who have lost their lives in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
"Last year, 117 military, police and civilian peacekeepers from 43 countries lost their lives in service. Since 1948, more than 3,500 peacekeepers have sacrificed their lives for saving others,” said the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the ceremony.
Later, a posthumous medal-awarding ceremony for fallen peacekeepers was held in the room of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
At the rostrum, the light blue boxes containing the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal were placed neatly on the desk covered with a dark blue tablecloth. The crystal medal symbolizes the power, purity and fragility of life of peacekeepers dedicated to the cause of peace.
"The medals to be awarded today posthumously to fallen peacekeepers are named after Dag Hammarskjöld, my predecessor (the second Secretary-General of the United Nations) who sacrificed himself in the cause of peace, just like those metal winners," said Guterres before the ceremony began.
Guterres and Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Affairs Jean-Pierre Lacroix conferred the medals to Shen Liangliang, Li Lei and Yang Shupeng, three UN peacekeepers from China who were killed last year in peacekeeping operations. Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations Liu Jieyi and Major General Huang Xueping, head of the Military Staff Committee of China's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, received the medals on behalf of the Chinese side.
Shen Liangliang, who was a soldier of the Chinese peacekeeping engineer detachment to Mali, was killed in a terrorist attack at the camp site of MINUSMA forces in Gao, Mali on June 1, 2016.
Li Lei and Yang Shupeng, two peacekeepers of the Chinese peacekeeping infantry battalion, were killed by a mortar shell falling in the UN House during a cross fire between the government and anti-government forces in Juba, capital of South Sudan on July10, 2016.
Liu Jieyi said that Shen Liangliang, Li Lei and Yang Shupeng sacrificed their young lives for the cause of international peace. China will, as always, firmly support the cause of international peace, keep its steadfast determination to safeguard the world peace and security, and honor its commitment to supporting United Nations peacekeeping operations, Liu added.
At present, the United Nations has 16 peacekeeping missions worldwide, with more than 120,000 peacekeepers in peacekeeping operations. Among them, in all the UN mission areas, Mali has the most peacekeeper casualties.
"The death of Shen Liangliang made us very sad," said Koen Davidse, deputy special representative of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), earlier this month in a written interview with Xinhua News Agency.
"He died a hero while protecting others. We will continue our work bringing peace to Mali and making sure his sacrifice was not in vain," Davidse said.