Pinoy peacekeeper honored in NY

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A Philippine soldier is among the 126 peacekeepers who will be honored by the United Nations in New York City in observance of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

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Captain Aurelio Kigis served with the UN Disengagement Observer Force (Undof) in the Golan Heights. He died on July 10 last year while “serving the cause of peace.”

There are no details given about his death, other than reports that quoted his brother, Victor, saying the captain died in Israel waters.

In a statement, the UN said Kigis is one of the 126 peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2014 who will receive posthumously the Dag Hammarskjold medal.

The ceremony will be held at the UN headquarters in New York on May 29 (Friday).
Kigis was a former member of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), according to reports.

The CPLA was one of the first groups to be integrated into the Philippine Army in 2003. Kigis was a member of the 51st infantry batallion of the Philippine Army and the spokesman for the North Luzon Command.

He first became a member of the peacekeeping operations in December 2003, and was to be promoted to the rank of major when he died.

The peacekeepers will be honored during the observance of the UN’s 70th anniversary.

“United Nations peacekeeping has given life to the UN Charter’s aim ‘to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security,’” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message to mark the day.

“Through years of struggle and sacrifice, the iconic Blue Helmet has earned its place as a symbol of hope to millions of people living in war-ravaged lands,” he added.

But the secretary-general also appealed for “better” funding, training and equipment. He urged developed countries “to resume their historically influential role as contributors of troops.”

He also called on for stronger support from UN m ember-states that are responsible for authorizing, financing and contributing troops and police to the missions.

Herve Ladsous, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, also paid tribute to the “courageous men and women” who lost their lives while serving in the missions.

“I express my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have paid the ultimate price. Today, we are witnessing our largest deployment in the history of UN peacekeeping.

This is a testament of the international community’s faith in peacekeeping as a fundamental tool in helping to promote peace and security,” he said.

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