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

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

“Kenyan peacekeeping troops are heroes to these children because they have refused to pay the price of indifference,” said a representative of the UN Children’s Fund 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 faraway land.”

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.

A spokesperson for 128 Kenyans serving with the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea said they “will be thrilled to be remembered by the children of their nation, especially (when they are) 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.

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