836 Indian troops in peacekeeping mission in South Sudan awarded UN medal
A total of 836 troops from the Indian Army serving with the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan have been awarded the United Nations medal for their services to ensure durable peace in the world’s youngest country.
The troops from an Indian battalion, who were deployed at Malakal in Upper Nile state, recently completed their tour of duty. India is the second-largest troop contributor to the 18,300-strong peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, having provided nearly 2,400 soldiers.
The civilian, police and military personnel from 73 countries serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) are responsible for protecting civilians, creating conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian aid, supporting the implementation of a revitalised peace agreement, and monitoring and investigating human rights.
UNMISS force commander, Lt Gen Shailesh Tinaikar of the Indian Army, lauded the Indian battalion for successfully completing its tour of duty.
“When all of you arrived in Upper Nile state, it was a time of great flux,” he said at the event where the troops were awarded the medal.
“You had to assume operational responsibility immediately with the threat of imminent inter-communal 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,” he said.
Tinaikar also lauded the Indian peacekeepers for rescuing and sheltering 32 humanitarian colleagues at Renk and ensuring their safe evacuation to the country’s capital, Juba.
Vishnu Sharma, India’s ambassador to South Sudan, was the guest of honour at the medal parade. “Your courage, commitment and sacrifice to the cause of durable 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,” he said.
Sharma noted the contributions of Indian veterinarians who treated thousands of animals and built capacities among livestock owners on animal management, boosting their economic stability.
Christian Mikala, the acting head of the UNMISS field office in Malakal, acknowledged the peacekeepers’ 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,” he said.
Col Neeraj Tiwari, the commander of the Indian battalion, said the troops had gone the extra mile for the communities they were serving. “We wish the South Sudanese the very best as they progress in building a sustainable peace from the grassroots to the very highest levels of society,” he added.
Tinaikar was appointed the force commander of UNMISS by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in May 2019. Tinaikar earlier served as commandant of the Infantry School since July 2018, and as the additional director general of military operations at Army Headquarters during 2017-18. He also served in the UN Angola Verification Mission III during 1996-97and in the UN Mission in Sudan during 2008-09.