Indian soldiers create peace village in Congo

Ironically, the Indian peacekeepers had selected Kimoka and developed it as a “peace village.” Now littered with debris of war, it was here that political representatives of the UN’s Congo mission held talks with Nkunda’s fighters in hopes of ending violence and holding ceasefire, writes Rahul Singh.
HT Image
HT Image
Updated on Oct 22, 2008 01:07 AM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times | By, Kimoka (congo)

A gaggle of Indian soldiers holding a post on a hillock here is crestfallen. A primary school, run by Unicef barely 40m down the slope, was hit by a storm of mortars on the morning of September 21 by troops loyal to renegade general Laurent Nkunda, well versed in devising new tactics to destabilise the government. Luckily, no one was hurt. It was a Sunday and the school was shut.

But the 854 children haven’t returned, with their frightened parents scampering to the safety of filthy camps for internal refugees.

Pointing to the date on the blackboard ‘Mardi, 16.09.2008,’ Captain Saurabh Mamgain, who commands a mechanised column here, wistfully told HT: “There was a flurry of activity when the children were around. Their presence was cathartic and symbolised things were improving. We miss them. The troops keep enquiring about their return.”

More than 8.5 lakh civilians have fled their homes in the troubled province of North Kivu fearing atrocities, despite a peace deal the Congolese government signed with Nkunda and a dozen armed groups this January.

Ironically, the Indian peacekeepers had selected Kimoka and developed it as a “peace village.” Now littered with debris of war, it was here that political representatives of the UN’s Congo mission held talks with Nkunda’s fighters in hopes of ending violence and holding ceasefire.

The transcendent love for these schoolchildren came unbeknown to the 50-odd Indian peacekeepers manning the Kimoka post. The blue berets (colour of caps worn in UN service) would any day prefer their high-decibel merrymaking to the humdrum of infantry vehicles patrolling flashpoints in the vicinity.

“The children’s choir would often walk up to our post and sing for us. Fortunately, they were not in the classrooms when the mortars landed. We understand the apprehensions of their parents but we want them back,” said an Indian subedar.

And when they do, Mamgain’s band of benevolent soldiers in this oasis of hope will organise a special service for them at the school church.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • French President Emmanuel Macron 

    On bid to cut oil prices, what Macron has been told by UAE, Saudi

    Two top OPEC oil producers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, can barely increase oil production, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said he had been told by the UAE's president. Read: France holds parliamentary election in vital test for Macron "And then he said (the) Saudis can increase by 150 (thousands barrels per day). Maybe a little bit more, but they don't have huge capacities before six months' time," Macron said.

  • Police block the scene where a semitrailer with multiple dead bodies was discovered, Monday, June 27, 2022, in San Antonio.

    At least 40 migrants found dead in truck in US city: Report

    At least 40 people have been found dead inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, news agencies reported citing law enforcement official briefed on the matter. San Antonio's KSAT television reported 42 people dead inside the truck, in a presumed migrant smuggling attempt in South Texas. San Antonio police is yet to make an official statement on the incident. Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said in a tweet that the victims' nationalities were still unknown.

  • In many European countries, monkeypox cases are rising,

    More than 3,400 monkeypox cases reported to WHO globally: 5 things to know

    The World Health Organization has confirmed over 3,400 reported cases of monkeypox and one related death globally as of last Wednesday, with majority of them from Europe. In an update on Monday, the WHO said that 1,310 new cases were reported to the UN health agency since June 17, with eight new countries reporting monkeypox cases. 5 things to know about monkeypox: Monkeypox is a large DNA virus belonging to the orthopoxvirus family.

  • People watch as smoke bellows after a Russian missile strike hit a crowded shopping mall, in Kremenchuk, Ukraine.

     G7 vows to keep pressure on Russia after missiles strike Ukraine shopping mall

    Russian missiles struck a crowded shopping mall in central Ukraine on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, as Moscow fought for control of a key eastern city and Western leaders promised to support Kyiv in the war "as long as it takes". More than 1,000 people were inside when two Russian missiles slammed into the mall in the city of Kremenchuk, southeast of Kyiv, Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram. He said the death count could rise.

  • File photo of former President Donald Trump.

    Company buying Trump's social media app faces subpoenas

    The company planning to buy Donald Trump's new social media business has disclosed a federal grand jury investigation that it says could impede or even prevent its acquisition of the Truth Social app. Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp. dropped almost 10% Monday as the company revealed that it has received subpoenas from a grand jury in New York. The new probe could make it more difficult for Trump to finance his social media company.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, June 28, 2022