By Arul Louis
United Nations, May 25 (IANS) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has praised India for having the highest proportion of women in its contingents to peacekeeping operations and held up its contributions as an example of contributions to UN values.
“India has the largest percentage of women, especially in the police force – 22 per cent are women – which is absolutely remarkable, an extraordinary contribution”, he said at India’s reception for International Peacekeepers Day on Friday.
“India is the example of commitment to the United Nations Charter, the values of the UN and the sacrifice that the men and women make to peacekeeping”, he said. “I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for the contribution of your country.”
He said that India has 6,400 personnel in UN peacekeeping operations around the world.
The Blue Helmets who have died while serving the UN are honoured on International Peacekeepers Day. “I am sure this is effort the most emotional day for all of us in the year,” he said.
“We have the obligation to do everything in order to better support those who are serving the UN and the UN Charter and human dignity so well as peacekeepers,” Guterres said.
India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said: “On behalf of troop-contributing countries, I would like to pay homage to all our troops who couldn’t return home.”
Earlier at a ceremony, Guterres awarded the posthumous Dag Hammarskjold medal to Jitender Kumar, and Indian police officer who was among the 119 peacekeepers who died in the past year while serving the UN. Akbaruddin received the medal.
Kumar died while serving in the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
Guterres presented the first Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage, the highest UN honour established in 2014, to Malawian peacekeeper Chancy Chitete for his exceptional courage in saving a fellow peacekeeper while sacrificing his life. His widow Lachel Chitete Mwenechanya received the award.
MONUSCO peacekeepers were attacked by rebels disrupting UN efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak last November. While under fire, Chitete pulled a wounded Tanzanian peacekeeper to safety and was killed as performed first aid for the soldier saving his life.
The award is named for Senegalese Captain Diagne was killed in 1994 while saving hundreds of lives in Rwanda.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)