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Explained: India’s role in UN Peacekeeping Missions over the years

Two BSF personnel who were part of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were among five people killed during a protest. What do UN peacekeepers do? How has India contributed to UN Peacekeeping?

HC Shishupal Singh and HC Sanwala Ram Vishnoi were among five people killed during an anti-UN protest. (Source: Twitter/@BSF_India)

Two BSF personnel who were part of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), were among five people killed during a protest in an eastern town near the border with Uganda on Tuesday (July 26).

A total 175 Indian peacekeepers have so far died while serving with the United Nations. India has lost more peacekeepers than any other UN Member State.

“Deeply grieved at the loss of lives of two valiant Indian peacekeepers of the BSF in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were part of MONUSCO. The perpetrators of these outrageous attacks must be held accountable and brought to justice. Deepest condolences to the bereaved families,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar posted on Twitter.

The two BSF men have been identified as Head Constable Shishupal Singh and Head Constable Sanwala Ram Vishnoi.

“DG BSF & all ranks express condolences on the sad demise of HC Shishupal Singh & HC Sanwala Ram Vishnoi on 26 Jul 2022, deployed with UN Peace Keeping Contingent (@MONUSCO) in Democratic Republic of Congo. Prahari Parivar stands by their families in these trying times,” a tweet by the BSF said on Wednesday (July 27).

According to the BSF, Tuesday’s protest in Butembo was part of a week-long call for demonstrations and agitations against the UN mission called MONUSCO.

United Nations Peacekeeping

Since 1948, UN Peacekeepers have undertaken 71 Field Missions. There are approximately 81,820 personnel serving on 13 peace operations led by UNDPO, in four continents currently. This represents a nine-fold increase since 1999.

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A total of 119 countries have contributed military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping. Currently, 72,930 of those serving are troops and military observers, and about 8,890 are police personnel.

India’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping

India has a long history of service in UN Peacekeeping, having contributed more personnel than any other country. To date, more than 2,53,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN Peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948.

Currently, there are around 5,500 troops and police from India who have been deployed to UN Peacekeeping missions, the fifth highest amongst troop-contributing countries.

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India has also provided, and continues to provide, eminent Force Commanders for UN Missions. India is the fifth largest troop contributor (TCC) with 5,323 personnel deployed in 8 out of 13 active UN Peacekeeping Missions, of which 166 are police personnel.

* India’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping began with its participation in the UN operation in Korea in the 1950s, where India’s mediatory role in resolving the stalemate over prisoners of war in Korea led to the signing of the armistice that ended the Korean War. India chaired the five-member Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission, while the Indian Custodian Force supervised the process of interviews and repatriation that followed.

* The UN entrusted the Indian armed forces with subsequent peace missions in the Middle East, Cyprus, and the Congo (since 1971, Zaire).

* India also served as Chair of the three international commissions for supervision and control for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos established by the 1954 Geneva Accords on Indochina.

Role of women in Indian Peacekeeping

India has been sending women personnel on UN Peacekeeping Missions. In 2007, India became the first country to deploy an all-women contingent to a UN Peacekeeping Mission. The Formed Police Unit in Liberia provided 24-hour guard duty and conducted night patrols in the capital Monrovia, and helped to build the capacity of the Liberian police.

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These women officers not only played a role in restoring security in the West African nation but also contributed to an increase in the number of women in Liberia’s security sector.

Medical care as part of India’s Missions

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In addition to their security role, the members of the Indian Formed Police Unit also organised medical camps for Liberians, many of whom have limited access to health care services.

Medical care is among the many services Indian Peacekeepers provide to the communities in which they serve on behalf of the Organization. They also perform specialised tasks such as veterinary support and engineering services.

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Indian veterinarians serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), stepped up to help cattle herders who were losing much of their stock to malnutrition and disease in the war-torn nation. The Indian contingent in South Sudan has provided vocational training and life-saving medical assistance, as well as carrying out significant road repair work.

In September 2020, based on an urgent request received from the UN Secretariat, India deployed two medical teams of 15 medical personnel each at Goma (DRC) and Juba (South Sudan). The main command-and-control hub of MONUSCO is located in Goma, DRC.

The Hospital by India in Goma, operational since January 2005, has 90 Indian nationals including 18 specialists.

Recognition of Indian efforts

The Indian contingent in the Upper Nile region (includes the Indian Battalion, the Horizontal Mechanical Engineering Company, the Level II hospital, the Petroleum Platoon and the Force Signal Unit) have all received UN Medals of Honour.

India has provided 17 Force Commanders to various Missions. Besides the Force Commanders, India also had the honour of providing two Military Advisers, one Female Police Adviser, and one Deputy Military Adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

India was the first country to contribute to the Trust Fund on sexual exploitation and abuse, which was set up in 2016.

India’s views on UN Peacekeeping

India is of the view that the international community must grasp the rapid changes that are underway in the nature and role of contemporary peacekeeping operations. The Security Council’s mandates to UN Peacekeeping operations need to be rooted in ground realities, and co-related with the resources provided for the peacekeeping operation.

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It is critical that troop and police contributing countries should be fully involved at all stages and in all aspects of mission planning. There should be greater financial and human resources for peace-building in post-conflict societies, where UNPKOs have been mandated, according to officials.

First published on: 27-07-2022 at 07:58:33 pm
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