Saad Zghari’s former commander described the late soldier as “brilliant, disciplined, respectful, and faithful to his duty to protect civilians.”
Moroccan peacekeeper Saad Zghari, who died on May 31, 2019 while serving with the United Nations mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), was posthumously awarded on Friday, May 29 the Dag Hammarskjold Medal.
The award recognizes UN military personnel, police, or civilians who lose their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping operations.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres awarded the medal to the fallen first class soldier during a virtual ceremony held at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The ceremony honored a total of 83 peacekeepers from 39 countries who died last year in the line of duty, and included a moment of silence in their memory.
“Now in honor of the memories of all those who have fallen in the line of duty I want to express my deepest condolences to their families. I hope that this medal offers them a measure of comfort,” Guterres said, remembering their service on this year’s International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
To mark the occasion, Guterres also laid a wreath earlier in the day to pay tribute to all the UN blue helmets who have lost their lives since 1948.
The Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations in New York, Omar Hilale, and Colonel Mohamed El Kaissy, Military Advisor to the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom to the United Nations were among the virtual ceremony’s participants.
Ambassador Hilale said during the virtual event that 24-year-old Zghari was part of the 9th Armored Squadron Group of Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces. The commander of his contingent had told Hilale that Zghari will be remembered as “a brilliant soldier, disciplined, respectful and faithful to his duty to protect civilians.”
Hilale also seized the opportunity to express “sincere condolences and compassion to the United Nations and to the governments and families of all personnel and civilians who died while serving the United Nations flag and the ideals and goals of our organization for a peaceful world.”
The award honors the life and legacy of Swedish economist and diplomat Dag Hammarskjold, the second secretary-general of the United Nations.
Hammarskhold died in a September 1961 plane crash en route to facilitate a ceasefire in the Congo Crisis. Hammarskjold is the only Nobel Peace Prize laureate in history to receive the award posthumously.