TOMORROW on International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers, Australians are encouraged to recognise those who have contributed to global peacekeeping efforts.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester said Australia had spent more than 70 years making a significant contribution to worldwide peacekeeping operations.
“Australian men and women, often referred to as the ‘Blue Berets’, have participated in United Nations peacekeeping operations for more than 70 years, with the aim of making the world a safer and more peaceful place,” Mr Chester said.
“The blue beret, worn by those who serve on United Nations peacekeeping missions, has become a symbol of international peacekeeping.
“The first Australian peacekeepers deployed in 1947 and since that time Australian military personnel, police and civilians have been involved in more than 50 multinational peacekeeping operations.”
Australian peacekeepers have served on operations around the world, in Somalia, Rwanda, Mozambique and elsewhere in Africa, in the Middle East, in Cambodia and East Timor, and in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands.
Earlier this year Major General Cheryl Pearce completed her tenure as the Force Commander of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, where she commanded more than 800 peacekeepers from 15 nations. Today, there are 23 Australians on UN Peacekeeping missions around the world, including in South Sudan, the Middle East and Mali.
“Tragically 16 Australians have died while serving as peacekeepers, on operations around the world. Today we honour their memory and thank all those who have served in UN operations,” Mr Chester said.
“I thank all those who have served as peacekeepers. You have made, and continue to make, a valuable contribution to the world.”