The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus and head of United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) Colin Stewart said on Wednesday he still has hope that the Cyprus problem will not persist much longer.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) after an event held outside Ledra Palace in the Nicosia buffer zone, Stewart stressed the significance of the ‘International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers’, calling it “an occasion to pay tribute to all those who serve in peacekeeping worldwide and those who have served in the past.”

This year marked the first occasion Unficyp could observe the day at a new monument called ‘In The Service of Peace’, inaugurated on March 4, commemorating the force’s 60th anniversary in Cyprus.

This monument honours 150,000 uniformed personnel who have served in Cyprus, 187 of whom have died here,” Stewart said.

“We created this permanent monument as a space accessible to all Cypriots and visitors to reflect on the contributions towards resolving the Cyprus problem. We hope the issue will not continue much longer.”

During the event, Stewart read the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ message for the occasion. Guterres praised the more than 76,000 UN peacekeepers who strive for peace, saying “they embody humanity’s highest ideal: peace.”

“Hailing from over 120 countries, our Blue Helmets serve in 11 peace operations across conflict-affected areas in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East,” Guterres’ message said.

“These men and women work daily, often at great personal risk, in some of the world’s most dangerous and unstable regions to protect civilians, uphold human rights, support elections, and strengthen institutions. They are part of a long-standing tradition.

“For over 75 years, UN peacekeepers have supported communities devastated by conflict and upheaval across 71 missions.”

The UNSG also remembered the more than 4,300 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag.

He stressed that global support is essential for peacekeepers to meet contemporary and future challenges.

Achieving peace takes hard work,” Guterres’ message added. “On this important day, and every day, let’s re-commit to supporting those who work for peace: the UN peacekeepers.”