Three Indian peacekeepers, who lost their lives serving under the UN flag last year, are among the 103 military, police, and civilian peacekeepers who will be honoured posthumously with a prestigious medal in the United Nations for their service and supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.
The three Indians include Border Security Force personnel Head Constables Shishupal Singh and Sanwala Ram Vishnoi, who served with the Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Shaber Taher Ali, employed in a civilian capacity with the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.
They will be honoured with the Dag Hammarskjold Medal at a solemn ceremony to be held at the UN headquarters on May 25.
India is currently the third largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping with more than 6,000 military and police personnel deployed to Abyei, the Central African Republic, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, the Middle East, and Western Sahara.
In his message honouring the extraordinary contributions of UN peacekeepers to international peace and security, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: ”United Nations peacekeepers are the beating heart of our commitment to a more peaceful world. For 75 years, they have supported people and communities rocked by conflict and upheaval across the globe.”
Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix said in his message that peacekeeping is a powerful example of how strong partnerships and collective political will can result in meaningful change.
”Working together with local communities and other partners, our personnel protect civilians, advance political solutions, and help end conflicts in the pursuit of sustainable peace. We appreciate the support of all stakeholders to ensure that UN Peacekeeping can continue to work as an effective multilateral tool for global peace and security," Lacroix said.
Singh and Vishnoi, and a peacekeeper from Morocco were killed when the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in North Kivu came under attack in July last year.
At the MONUSCO Butembo base, violent attackers snatched weapons from Congolese police and ”fired upon” the uniformed personnel.
MONUSCO's Acting Head Khassim Diagne described the days as ”intensive” and ”tragic” for the mission.
”The culmination of violence and the tragedy resulted in the killing of three of our brave peacekeepers, two Indians of the Formed Police Unit and one Moroccan from the military contingent and another Egyptian colleague from the police were also wounded,” he said previously.
"We will not leave any stone unturned to get to the bottom of it, to the investigation. This was clearly a hostile act against our troops. This may be a war crime,” Diagne said.
The UN Security Council issued a statement strongly condemning the attacks on the UN mission in Congo and called on the Congolese authorities to swiftly investigate the attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the UN Peacekeeping.
On Thursday, the UN headquarters will commemorate the day with sombre events, including a wreath-laying ceremony by Guterres at the Peacekeepers Memorial Site at the expansive North Lawn to honour the more than 4,200 UN peacekeepers, including 178 Indians, who have lost their lives since 1948.
Guterres will also preside over a ceremony in the General Assembly Hall at which the Dag Hammarskjold Medals will be awarded posthumously to 103 military, police, and civilian peacekeepers, who lost their lives serving under the UN flag last year.
The secretary-general will also present the 2022 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award to Captain Cecilia Erzuah, a military officer from Ghana who served with the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei.
Created in 2016, the award ”recognises the dedication and effort of an individual peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security”.
The theme for this year's observance, ’Peace Begins with Me', recognises the contribution and efforts of UN peacekeepers alongside many partners including the communities that we serve to secure peace and progress.
The International Day of UN Peacekeepers was established by the UN General Assembly in 2002, to pay tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives to the cause of global peace.
The International Day is marked every year on May 29, since 1948, when the historic decision was made to deploy military observers to the Middle East to supervise the implementation of Israel-Arab Armistice Agreements, in what became the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation.
More than two million peacekeepers from 125 countries have since served in 71 operations around the world in the last 75 years.
Today, 87,000 women and men are serving in 12 conflict zones across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle-East.