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United Nations Blue Berets stationed in Ex-Yugoslavia

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 1993

At the time of receiving the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, the military forces deployed in the former Yugoslavia under the mandate of the United Nations Organization, made up of members from several countries, were carrying out exemplary work both in protecting humanitarian aid and in peacekeeping between the different sides to the conflict, to the extent of even placing their lives at risk.

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The peculiarities of the situation which ex-Yugoslavia is going through, with overlapping ethnic and religious confrontations, unclear war fronts, millions of refugees and a great need for humanitarian aid -medicine, food, clothing, etc.- make their sensitive work, in which, furthermore, they cannot take sides or any position in favour of any of the combatants, even more difficult.

The UNO Blue Berets were carrying on a complicated job in ex-Yugoslavia, escorting convoys of humanitarian aid, negotiating with different sides or encouraging them to do so themselves to keep the channels open for dialogue, protecting both the millions of refugees caused by this conflict and foreign negotiators and intermediaries, and even physically placing themselves between the combatants, doing all of this by peaceful use of their means and weapons.

Furthermore, in ex-Yugoslavia, there were other international institutions and bodies at work, both private and those depending upon the United Nations Organisation itself. Such is the case, for example of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), winner of the 1991 Prince of Asturias Award for International Co-operation.

UN peacekeeping forces are performing difficult missions in different countries around the world which are going through situations of confrontation or tension. During recent years these forces have increased their activity in a changing world where different conflicts have arisen, which has meant strengthening the role of the United Nations Organisation, based in New York, with the aim of resolving conflicts all over the world.

Among the military forces stationed in ex-Yugoslavia, there was an sizeable detachment of Spanish forces, periodically replaced, principally stationed in Bosnia. Their work were frequently praised by the other countries taking part in this humanitarian mission. Several Spanish soldiers died in performance of their humanitarian aid work in the area.

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