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Shouldering Collective Responsibility for Durable Peace in South Sudan Key Takeaway from Peacekeepers' Day Event

It was a beautiful, sunny day in South Sudan's capital, Juba, when UNMISS peacekeepers, government officials, humanitarians, diplomatic partners as well as community members came together at a meaningful ceremony to mark a special occasion–the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

At the event, Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the UN Peacekeeping mission on the ground, spoke about the work being done by Blue Helmets across South Sudan.

"Our peacekeepers build enduring partnerships with local communities and authorities, including traditional leaders, government counterparts, politicians, law enforcement personnel, military actors, women, children, and the larger civil society for the cause of peace and progress, so that South Sudanese can be masters of their common destiny," he stated.

"We believe that this spirit of partnerships characterizes our efforts everywhere," added the SRSG.

The top UN official, accompanied by Deng Dau Deng, South Sudan's Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, inspected an Honour Guard by peacekeepers from China, Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Rwanda as well as a mixed group of countries representing the United Nations Police.

This year's commemoration was doubly significant as the UN marks 75 years of peacekeeping operations. The theme–Peace Begins with Me–was palpable, as Minister Deng pointed out.

"This year's theme is innovative and inspiring because it challenges each of us to look inwards and find our will to build peace together with those around us," he said.

Prior to the official ceremony, SRSG Haysom and other senior members of UNMISS also inaugurated a memorial for 124 peacekeepers–civilian, military and police–who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of peace.

Another poignant moment came as the flags lowered and wreaths were laid to honour the legacy of these fallen peacekeepers, including a collective moment of silence in their memory.

This reflective mood was, however, soon uplifted by the young South Sudanese schoolchildren who sang about the country's need to usher in a brighter future for young people, while Chinese.

But perhaps the most simple but heartfelt endorsement of the work UNMISS does in the world's newest country as it makes the difficult journey from war to peace came from one of our own, Andree Abella, an UNPOL officer.

"Serving for peace in South Sudan means the world to me. I come from the Philippines, one of the first members of the UN and I want to contribute to peace and stability in South Sudan," she revealed with a smile.

In South Sudan, some 13221 military, 1468 police, 2268 civilians and 408 UN Volunteers, serve with dedication and professionalism under the UN flag to help build a more prosperous future.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
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