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India lost more peacekeepers than any other UN member country, says envoy

Over the last 70 years, more than 160 Indian military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping missions around the world, the highest total from any troop contributing country.

PTI | New Delhi |

India, among the largest troop contributing nations to UN peacekeeping, has lost more peacekeepers in the line of duty than any other UN member state and the bravery, professionalism and selfless service of the brave Indian men and women is widely admired, the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN TS Tirumurti said on Thursday.

In his message on the occasion of the International Day of Peacekeepers, observed on May 29, Ambassador Tirumurti honoured India’s brave men and women who have served as peacekeepers selflessly in foreign lands to preserve inter

“Indian peacekeepers have been at the forefront of this effort. They have been widely admired for their bravery, professionalism and selfless service. But India’s long standing UN peacekeeping contribution has not come without cost. India has lost more peacekeepers than any other member state of the United Nations,” he said in a video message.

Tirumurti paid solemn tribute to the peacekeepers who laid down their lives for the cause of international peace and security.

Over the last 70 years, more than 160 Indian military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping missions around the world, the highest total from any troop contributing country.

This year five Indian peacekeepers are among 83 military, police and civilian personnel who will be honoured posthumously with the prestigious Dag Hammarskjold Medal for their courage and sacrifice in the line of duty. Major Ravi Inder Singh Sandhu and Sergeant Lal Manotra Tarsem, who served with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS); Sergeant Ramesh Singh with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL); Private Johnsion Beck with the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and Edward Agapito Pinto, who served in a civilian capacity with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) will posthumously receive the medal on Peacekeepers Day

Tirumurti also lauded Major Suman Gawani of the Indian Army, a Military Observer, formerly deployed with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), who has been honoured with the prestigious 2019 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award, the first year the prestigious award has gone to a peacekeeper from India.

Gawani “epitomises, in many ways, the rich values of Indian peacekeepers,” Tirumurti said.

Gawani, along with Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian Naval officer working in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), were this week named joint winners of the award, which recognizes the dedication and effort of an individual military peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in a peace operation context, as nominated by Heads and Force Commanders of peace operations.

Guterres commended Araujo and Gawani for their award, describing them as “powerful role models. Through their work, they have brought new perspectives and have helped to build trust and confidence among the communities we serve”, he said.

“Through their commitment and innovative approaches, they embrace a standard of excellence that is an inspiration to all blue helmets everywhere. As we confront today”s challenges, their work has never been more important or relevant.”

India is the 5th largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping. It currently contributes more than 5,400 military and police personnel to the UN peacekeeping operations in Abyei, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, the Middle East, Sudan, South Sudan and Western Sahara as well as one expert to the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia.

Speaking during the commemoration of the International Day of Peacekeeping in 2018, UN Chief Antonio Guterres had thanked India for its “strong and sustained” support to peacekeeping, saying “you have indeed given a very strong contribution to global solidarity and to international peace and security.”

Honouring the memory of the 163 Indian peacekeepers who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, he had said, “the total 163 Indian peacekeepers, the highest number of all troop contributing countries, have given their lives for peace. We recognise their service and sacrifice as well as the service and sacrifice of all those from all countries that have fallen in the line of duty.”

He had also referred to the 125-strong women peacekeepers of the Indian Formed Police Unit deployed with the UN mission in Liberia, the first ever such contingent, calling them “an inspiration to all”.