International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers educational awareness campaign launched in Zimbabwe

Harare – Zimbabwe’s Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa Thursday 19 May launched the educational awareness campaign in commemoration of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2011. The Campaign is targeting 187 schools in Mashonaland Central, a Province that covers Bindura, Mt Darwin, Rushinga, Mbire, Muzarabani, Shamva, Mazowe and other areas.

During the week-long Campaign running from 23-28 May, former Blue Berets from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Air Force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Prisons Service and staff from UN Information Centre (UNIC) will raise awareness among pupils on UN peacekeeping.

Information materials will also be distributed by the Campaign teams.

The global theme of this years’ commemoration is “Rule of Law.”  This theme refers to the lawlessness that can come upon a nation or state because it is in conflict. Often when conflict strikes, lives are put at risk. Civilians are forced from their homes into bandit-infested streets and countryside. Courts that are often fragile before the fighting broke out can cease to function altogether. Prisoners escape, adding to the havoc. Instead of being ruled by law, societies are plunged into lawlessness. The deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission can offer hope for a transition from chaos to calm.

But for true security to take root, peacekeepers must do more than separate warring parties and disarm combatants. They must strengthen the institutions responsible for security and justice – the police, the courts and the correctional institutions – with full respect for the rule of law and human rights.

Currently, Zimbabwe is contributing to the UN’s ‘rule of law’ efforts in peacekeeping with 5 police officers serving in UNAMID (Darfur ),  35 in UNMIL (Liberia), 47 in UNMIS (southern Sudan) and 46 in UNMIT (Timor Leste).

In his statement during the Launch, the Minister of Defence stated that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces currently has members deployed on United Nations Missions in South Sudan, Darfur, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Burundi where they are serving in various capacities

The local theme for the commemoration is “Zimbabwe Celebrating International day of UN Peacekeepers.’

A similar educational awareness campaign was held in Bulawayo in 2010 under the theme Haiti Standing.  The campaign reached 42 schools.