UNITED NATIONS - From solemn wreath-laying ceremonies honouring those who died in service to a peace march, concerts, sporting events and multimedia exhibitions, UN offices and missions around the world are Friday observing the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guhenno led a wreath-laying ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York Friday, noting that 90 peacekeepers died last year, taking the total number of personnel who have died since the first operation was established in 1948 to over 2,400. "Serving far from home in challenging and dangerous environments, these men and women represent the best the international community has to offer; we pay tribute to their sacrifice and dedication in pursuit of the noble goals of the United Nations," he said. "But even as we mourn those we have lost, we pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication and courage of those who continue the work of their departed comrades whom we honour here today." More than 110,000 military, police and civilian personnel currently serve in 20 UN peace operations around the world, and the UN peacekeeping budget stands at $6.5 billion, an all-time high. Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has thanked UN member states, especially Pakistan, for contributing troops for the world body's peacekeeping missions around the globe that have helped keep peace in conflict-torn countries. "Our special thanks go to the top contributors: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Nigeria. Together, these nations of the South contribute nearly half of the United Nations peacekeepers," he said in a message marking the occasion. "Peacekeeping has developed into a flagship enterprise of our organization. Today, we have more than 110,000 men and women deployed in conflict zones around the world. They come from nearly 120 countries -- an all time high, reflecting confidence in UN peacekeeping," the secretary-general said. "They (peacekeepers) different cultures and experiences to the job, but they are united in their determination to foster peace."