Two Indian peacekeepers will be among 117 military, police and civilian personnel to be honored with a prestigious UN medal awarded posthumously for their courage and sacrifice in the line of duty. Rifleman Brijesh Thapa who served with the UN Organisation Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and Private Ravi Kumar who was deployed with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will be honoured with the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal on the International Day of UN Peacekeepers to be observed on May 24.
India is the largest cumulative troop contributor, having provided almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 peacekeeping missions mandated over the past six decades, including 13 of the current 16 missions. So far, about 168 Indian troops have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty under the UN Flag.
India currently deploys more than 7,600 military and police personnel to UN peace operations in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, the Middle East, South Sudan, Sudan and the Western Sahara.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will lay a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial at the world body’s headquarters to honour all fallen peacekeepers. Later, he will preside over a ceremony during which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medals will be awarded to 117 peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations last year.
Permanent Representatives to the UN will collect the medals on behalf of the fallen peacekeepers from their countries. The International Day of UN Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002 in a tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.
The General Assembly had designated May 29 as the commemoration day because it was the date in 1948 when the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the world body’s first peacekeeping mission, began operations in Palestine.
Since the first UN peacekeeping mission in 1948 until April 2016, 3,400 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease. Commemorative activities will be held at the world body’s headquarters and at peacekeeping operations and offices around the world.
The Dag Hammarskjold Medal was established in December 2000 and is awarded posthumously to members of peacekeeping operations who lost their lives during service with a peacekeeping operation under the operational control and authority of the United Nations.
The medal is named after the second UN Secretary General, who had died in a mysterious 1961 plane crash. He was posthumously awarded a Nobel Peace Prize the year he died.