From seizing drugs to killing robbers, the work done by Indian women peacekeepers in strife-torn Liberia has made such a remarkable impact in the West African nation that their stay has been extended by six months.
The Indian ministry of home affairs received a UN request to increase the tenure of the women troopers of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Liberia.
"The UN has lauded their performance and requested for extension of their stay, which has been approved by the ministry. Now they would be staying there for another six months," said Inspector General DC Dey of the Rapid Action Force wing in the CRPF.
"After completion of the extended stay, we will be sending a new team to Liberia depending on the requirement there," Dey said.
A group of 125 women personnel of the CRPF had left for the Liberian capital of Monrovia in January this year for six months under a UN peacekeeping mission - the first such all-women mission from India.
The troopers led by Commandant Seema Dhundiya were sent to maintain law and order, check civil disorder and protect the lives of citizens in the Liberian capital.
Apart from restoring peace, the CRPF women contingent was also deployed to train and educate the local police in the art of effective policing. The contingent underwent special training to adapt themselves to the living conditions there.
"Since they have settled down and are performing at their optimum level now, it is good that their stay has been extended as they have made a favourable impact in Liberia," Dey told IANS.
According to a senior force official, the women troopers carried out more than 40 operations in that country within a span of five months.
"The force arrested 30 people and recovered huge caches of weapons and fake currency within days of its deployment," the official said.
"In April, a team comprising 23 officers busted a drug hideout and seized a huge consignment of cocaine and opium," he said.
He added that last month the women's patrolling unit shot dead an alleged robber, who was fleeing after ransacking the house of a former minister of landmines of Liberia.
Last year, the UN had sought the services of the Indian women police force to perform 1peacekeeping tasks in Liberia. The 125 officers and personnel underwent a comprehensive training programme and they were equipped with a wide array of weaponry, including the simple baton, teargas shells, pistols, INSAS rifles, AK-47s and Light Machine Guns.
The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) took over peacekeeping duties from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in October 2003 and all peacekeepers are now under the UN Command.
Peacekeeping operations in Liberia posed a challenge to these CRPF personnel as the country has been facing devastating ethnic strife for the last 20 years.
Liberia recently entered a new democratic set-up and for the first time the country has an elected woman president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.