The vital role of Australians in peace operations and their more than 70 years of dedicated service to the international community is remembered today, National Peacekeepers and Peacemakers Day.
FILE PHOTO (2017): Australian Peacekeepers parade in Canberra on National Peacekeepers and Peacemakers Day (2017). Photo by Jay Cronan.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said peacekeepers and peacemakers had played, and continue to play, an important role in providing support and assistance to victims of conflict, often in unstable and dangerous locations.
“In September 1947, the first Australian peacekeepers arrived in the Netherlands East Indies – modern day Indonesia – to begin work as unarmed military observers and to observe the movements of both sides to ensure any violations were brought to the attention of the international community,” Mr Chester said.
“Over time, the nature of peacekeeping evolved, requiring management of more complex and multi-dimensional issues, ranging from operations as military observers, providing logistical support, and monitoring ceasefires, to landmine clearance operations, supporting democratic elections, providing policing support functions, and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid.”
Mr Chester said that, since 1947, Australians had served in more than 50 multi-national peacekeeping operations.
“Australian state and federal police forces have also had a long involvement in peacekeeping operations, beginning in 1964 with the first deployment to Cyprus and ending 53 years later in 2017.
“Today, I encourage people across the nation to respect and honour the service of the 16 Australians who have died on peacekeeping operations.
“Australians should also reflect on those who have served in all peacekeeping missions, and those who are currently serving in the Middle East UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), and the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS).”
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