Over 800 Indian peacekeepers serving in the UN mission in South Sudan have been honoured with a prestigious UN medal for their service on completion of their deployment.
A news report on the website of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said that 836 peacekeepers from India were recently honoured with the United Nations medal for their committed service to the cause of durable peace in the world's youngest nation.
UNMISS Force Commander Lieutenant General Shailesh Tinaikar lauded the Indian battalion for successfully completing its tour of duty and also praised efforts by the Indian peacekeepers in rescuing and sheltering 32 humanitarian personnel in Renk and ensuring their safe evacuation to Juba, the news report said.
When all of you arrived in Upper Nile state, it was a time of great flux, the news report quoted Tinaikar as saying. You had to assume operational responsibility immediately with the threat of imminent intercommunal clashes looming over you. Your presence and patrolling acted as a much-needed deterrent at the time, enabling civilians to go about their daily lives without fear, it said. India's Ambassador to South Sudan Vishnu Sharma, who was the guest of honour at the medal parade, said the courage, commitment and sacrifice by the Indian peacekeepers for the cause of lasting peace in South Sudan is a beacon of hope for the communities you are on the ground to serve. You have done the United Nations and your country very proud.
According to the UNMISS news article, Sharma also noted the contribution of Indian veterinarians who treated thousands of animals and "built capacities among livestock owners on animal management, thereby boosting their economic stability. Colonel Neeraj Tiwari, Commander of the Indian battalion, expressed hope that the Indian peacekeepers will be remembered for leaving a positive legacy of peace and capacity building, according to the news report.
We wish the South Sudanese the very best as they progress in building sustainable peace from the grassroots to the very highest levels of society, the report quoted Tiwari as saying. The Acting Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Malakal Christian Mikala voiced appreciation for the peacekeepers' consistent engagements with local communities.
You have been instrumental in extensive patrolling in your area of responsibilities and have built a relationship of trust and confidence with communities across Upper Nile, the article quoted Mikala as saying. You should all wear your medals with pride. As of August 2021, a total of 19,101 uniformed personnel are deployed with UNMISS. India is currently the second highest troop contributing country to the mission with 2,389 military personnel deployed and an additional 30 police personnel posted with UNMISS.