India’s “remarkable” role in United Nations peacekeeping missions in various parts of the world was today hailed by the global body. India is the largest cumulative troop contributor, having provided almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions over the past six decades, including 13 of the current 16 missions. Participating at an event to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, UN Resident Coordinator in India Yuri Afanasiev read out a message from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in which he hailed India’s contribution.
He also mentioned that last year 117 peacekeepers had laid down their lives which included two from India. “It will be an understatement to say that India’s contribution to global peace has been remarkable,” Afanasiev said. He also paid tribute to Indian peacekeepers – rifleman Brijesh Thapa and Sepoy Ravi Kumar – who laid down their lives in the line of duty.
Thapa had served with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo while Kumar was deployed with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Speaking on the occasion, Vice Chief of Army Staff Sarath Chand applauded the Indian peacekeeping contingents for their dedication, conduct and competence. He also spoke on the changing dynamics in peacekeeping in the present UN missions and the way forward to overcome the challenges. “The nature of conflicts and the reactions to these conflicts have also dramatically changed over the past decades,” Chand said.
Army officials said there have been 50 cases of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse against UN peacekeepers since January 1 last year but there was not a single allegation against Indian soldiers. Afanasiev said India had set an example in February last year, when it deployed the first ever female foreign police unit for peacekeeping mission in Liberia. He said the UN peacekeeping budget is less than a half of one per cent of global military spending and is shared between all 193 UN members states.
The International Day of UN Peacekeepers is celebrated world over on May 29 to honour the fallen peacekeepers and to pay tribute to those who served or are still serving in UN peacekeeping missions.
The theme for the day this year is ‘Investing in Peace Around the World’. The event saw participation by the diplomatic community, officers from ministries, veteran peacekeepers, UN country teams, students from prominent universities and Indian Army contingents earmarked for UN deployment.