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Tribute to Peacekeepers By MINUSMA Force Commander - General Cornelis Johannes MATTHIJSSEN, On the occasion of the International day of Peacekeepers, 29 May 2022

Today’s world has changed and is unfortunately not at ease.Conflicts disturb and destroy people’s lives.Innocent civilians even have become a target.Threats are getting more complex.Violent extremist groups use harassing tactics.Improvised explosive devices are an invisible enemy.Today’s peacekeeper is in the middle of all of this,Both civilian and military.He or she goes out the gate to engage and help people in need.The peacekeeping soldier brings security and provides a protective environment.

Today it’s the International Day of Peacekeeping and we celebrate the UN Peacekeepers, the Blue Helmets.The blue helmet is that soldier that is dedicated and stands firm. But this blue helmet is no longer the respected and undisputed beacon.He or she can be a deliberate target once leaving the gate,Attacked by an Improvised explosive device or by indirect or direct fire.Even inside the camp, potential threats might prevent a moment of rest.Being on the alert has become a second nature.This is unfortunately the reality for our peacekeepers here in Mali.Nevertheless, they do show dedication and they do stand firmOur blue helmets do their job, they are trained, equipped and very committedIt is with great professionalism and dedication that they fulfill their dutiesTheir focus is on the Malian communities they serve.They go out the gate daily.In difficult circumstances,With challenging weather and terrain conditions,But, they know what to do and how to carry out the UN idealsThey are able to cope with the difficult conditions.They ultimately take decisions in split seconds,To defend and protect innocent population and themselves.They serve the peace every day.If they would not do all of this, who else would?Our men and women peacekeepers deserve our deepest respect.