UNIC Windhoek marks International Day of UN Peacekeepers: honouring the men and women serving under the flag of the United Nations.

“Highlighting the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) mission”

The International Day of UN Peacekeepers is an annual celebration and commemoration of United Nations Peacekeepers worldwide. This year’s event coincide with the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, drawing attention to the theme: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE. In lieu hereof focusing on past peacekeeping missions, the importance of present ongoing missions and the deployment of future peacekeeping missions.

Bringing it home, Namibia, just celebrated its 25th year of independence and it only seemed fit to look at the past and pay tribute to the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) mission, and how the transition took place ushering in the independence of Namibia as a nation.

On Friday the 29th of May 2015, the Centre visited Jan Möhr High school to educate as well as enlighten 250 grade 10, 11 and 12 learners on peacekeeping operations worldwide. Emphasis has been placed on the UNTAG mission which was established to assist the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Martti Ahtisaari to ensure the early independence of Namibia through free and fair elections under the supervision and control of the United Nations and bearing in mind that the majority of the learners present have been born after the transition and independence took place and it would benefit them immensely to comprehend this historical democratic process.

The outreach commenced with a short briefing on what peacekeeping day is all about as well as an interactive discussion on what the term “peacekeeping” meant to the learners. The teaching were complimented with the screening of a short video clip exclusively prepared for this year’s    celebration that helped the leaners visualize and enlarged their scope of what peacekeeping missions involve. They were very intrigued and attentive as the video played. Once the video was done they applauded the UNTAG soldiers and peacekeepers worldwide that sacrifice and lay down their lives to ensure that security, political support and peace building assistance is given to countries who wish to transition from conflict to peace.

The in-depth lesson plan on the UNTAG mission were conducted with ease, because the learners seemed to have a good background on the facts such as what the abbreviation UNTAG stands for, who the Resident Representative of the UNTAG mission to Namibia was during the transition period and as well as who the current Secretary-General of the United Nations is.

Two learners were appointed as the UN Secretary-General for the outreach proceedings and to deliver the International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2015 message. They did this with enthusiasm and pride. This was then followed by a candle lighting ceremony which was done to pay tribute to all the lives lost during peacekeeping missions worldwide.

To conclude the exercises, the learners then wrote messages of gratitude and appreciation to recognize those who took part in the UNTAG mission as well as to the peacekeepers currently involved in ongoing mission around the globe.  Coincidently, among the group of learners we were pleasantly surprised to find a young boy that indicated and expressed his appreciation for all peacekeepers worldwide, as his own mother is currently involved in a peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

It was impressive to see how willingly the learners participated in the gratitude messages, and how heartfelt their messages were. On a whole they seemed to understand the important role that peacekeepers play in securing peace and stability.