|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
BSF men on peacekeeping mission to Congo
February 12, 2007 15:05 IST
A Border Security Force contingent will on Tuesday leave on a peacekeeping mission to Congo.
125 BSF personnel, including ten women for performing non-combat roles, will leave for the strife-torn central African country on Tuesday to join the United Nation's peacekeeping mission.
Armed to the teeth with mortar guns, assault rifles, riot-control weapons and bullet-proof vehicles, the personnel drawn from various battalions of the force are thrilled at the opportunity to don the UN's blue helmet.
"We know it is not going to be easy. But we are trained to handle such situations and are proud to represent India," said Akhileshwar Singh, Commandant of the contingent, which will replace the first BSF team that has returned from Congo after peacekeeping operations.
Flagging off the contingent, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil promised all help for restoring peace in Congo and said India will extend humanitarian assistance to the ethnic-strife-hit nation.
"We have been making efforts for establishing a free and peaceful world ever since our independence in 1947 and we will continue this endeavour," Patil said congratulating members of the contingent.
Patil told the BSF personnel that their experience in maintaining internal security in the country will help them perform their tasks easily in Congo.
The contingent, consisting of seven officers and fourteen subordinating officers, will be stationed in Lubumbashi and will assist in restoration of law and order for creating a conducive atmosphere for holding of elections.
The African nation of 58 million people is among the most dangerous places in the world for UN peacekeepers and civilian staffers. Nine of the 22 UN personnel killed in action in 2006 were in Congo.
The UN mission, known as MONUC, set up in 1999 has helped maintain peace in the vast mineral-rich country, the size of Western Europe, following a devastating war that drew in half a dozen neighbouring countries.
The country last year held successful UN-monitored presidential and national assembly elections, the first democratic polls in 40 years, electing Joseph Kabila as President.
BSF has also taken part in peacekeeping operations in countries like Namibia, Cambodia, Bosnia, Sudan and Kosovo in the past.