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UN creates medal to honor staff for courage

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council Thursday created a “Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal” to honor U.N. personnel who “demonstrate exceptional courage in the face of extreme danger” in their work.

The medal is named after the Senegalese captain who “unarmed and in the face of extreme danger,” saved as many as a thousand Rwandans during the 1994 massacre against Tutsi in Rwanda.

The resolution, proposed by Jordan and unanimously approved, notes “with the deepest regret” that “the family of Captain Diagne never received, after his death, any expressions of appreciation from the headquarters of the United Nations.”

Diagne, a member of the peacekeeping force in Rwanda, saved hundreds of Rwandans by helping them cross roadblocks erected by Hutu militants, who were committing the genocide.

He was killed while working in Rwanda on May 31, 1994, at age 36.

Paying homage at the Security Council, Rwandan envoy Eugene-Richard Gasana broke off several times, overcome with emotion.

The Senegalese ambassador, Abdou Salam Diallo, praised Diagne as “a worthy son of the United Nations, soldier for peace fallen as a hero.”

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