Children send holiday wishes to over 1,000 Kenyan blue helmets

Children send holiday wishes to over 1,000 Kenyan blue helmets

Kenyan children
Kenyan children have sent more than 2,000 homemade Christmas and New Years messages to their country’s nearly 1,100 blue helmets serving in eight United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world.

“Kenyan peacekeeping troops are heroes to these children because they have refused to pay the price of indifference,” said Olivia Yambi, Representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on behalf of the UN Country Team in Kenya. “In fact, this nation’s armed forces have been refusing to pay the price of indifference for many years and, 33 times, it has paid the ultimate price for peace in some far-away lands.”

Unlike this year, where schoolchildren from the capital Nairobi participated in the initiative, she said that next year, it will spread across the East African country, allowing more students to send messages to show their appreciation to Kenyan peacekeepers.

At a ceremony in Nairobi, General Jeremiah Mutinda Kianga, Chief of the Kenyan General Staff, said that this marks “the first time anyone in Kenya had thanked soldiers for their sacrifices on behalf of peace,” adding that the cards and letters are a “great morale booster.”

In a message, the acting head of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) Azouz Ennifar paid tribute to Kenyan peacekeepers.

The 128 Kenyans serving with UNMEE “will be thrilled to be remembered by the children of their nation,” he said. “It is especially difficult for them to be away from their families and loved ones at this time of year.”

As of 30 November, there are 1,086 Kenyan blue helmets serving in eight missions, with the largest number – 853 – serving with the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).