FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today, we pay tribute to the men and women of United Nations peacekeeping operations stationed around the globe, and we remember with gratitude the sacrifices of those who lost their lives this year in the service of peace.
UN peacekeepers have saved countless lives and delivered tangible results. Many countries are today more peaceful and stable because of their efforts, including Namibia, El Salvador, Cambodia and Mozambique. But today, UN peacekeeping is under severe strain because of a rise in the volume and complexity of operations across the globe. Over the last seven years, the UN launched eight new missions in rapid succession, placing a greater demand on a finite supply of well-equipped and trained troops and police. More than 124,000 peacekeepers from 115 countries are currently serving in 15 missions around the world.
To increase the effectiveness of peacekeeping missions, the United States is working to ensure that peacekeeping mandates are credible and achievable, that mission leadership is strong and well-supported, and that peacekeeping is accompanied by crucial peacemaking and peacebuilding activities which are central to a successful exit strategy for peacekeepers.
Strengthening UN peacekeeping has been one of the Obama Administration’s top priorities at the United Nations. Since President Obama took office, the United States has paid off peacekeeping arrears from the previous four years and committed $2 billion to the UN’s 2009 peacekeeping budget. In 2009, the United States provided nearly $3 billion in humanitarian and development assistance for eight countries hosting peacekeeping missions, and lent training, technical and financial assistance to 55 troop- and police-contributing nations. U.S. military forces also deployed to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake to support relief operations and provide assistance to the Haitian government, working side-by-side with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
Tragically, the United Nations this year suffered its greatest loss of life in any single event, when 96 peacekeepers from MINUSTAH died in the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti. Last year, we also mourned the loss of 121 peacekeeping and related personnel, which included fatalities from a plane crash in Haiti, continued attacks in Darfur, and an assault on UN staff in a guest house in Kabul. On May 28, the UN will award all of these individuals posthumously with the Dag Hammarskjold Medal. Today, as we remember these individuals and honor their memories, we also pledge our continued support to the tens of thousands of peacekeepers deployed around the world today, and the millions of innocents whose lives depend on their success.
To the UN peacekeepers deployed around the globe today, we thank you for your professionalism, dedication and courage, and we are grateful that you have answered the call to protect the vulnerable and promote a more peaceful world.
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