Diplomatist Special Report: West Asia - North Africa 2018 WANA 2018 - Page 31

SPECIAL REPORT Also, fifty Indian peacekeepers stationed in South Sudan have been awarded the UN Medal for their professionalism and service in protecting civilians and building a durable peace in the confl ict-ridden country. Initiatives such as this one demonstrate the power of Indian peacekeepers to make a real difference in the lives of South Sudanese families. According to the Mission, the next phase is installing appropriate structures and marram to bolster the bridge’s strength to withstand the next rainy season. India, which has its 700 nationals living in South Sudan, has two battalions of about 2,000 personnel in the UNMISS, deployed in two of the largest states the country – Jonglei and Upper Nile, according to information on Ministry of External Affairs website. Earlier, in West Asia, India was part of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), where for the fi rst time armed troop contingents were deployed. India's contribution was an infantry battalion and other support elements. Over a period of 11 years, 393 offi cers, 409 JCOs and 12383 other ranks took part in the operations. Also, in Somalia (1993–94) (UNITAF & UNOSOM II) The Indian Navy and Indian Army took an active part in UN Operations. Indian Army deployed a Brigade Group composed of 5000 personnel from all ranks and the navy deployed four warships. A decade ago, in Ethiopia-Eritrea in the year 2006–08 (UNMEE), Indian contribution and efforts were well recognised and taken positively all across, the unit was comprised of one infantry battalion group, one construction engineer company and one force reserve company, apart from staffi ng at various HQs and military observers. April 2005, two Infantry Battalion groups, sector HQ, Engineer company, a signal company, Level-II Hospital and a large number of military observers and staff offi cers (SOs) have been deployed. The mission has a Deputy Force Commander Brig Asit Mistry (Indian Army) and until recently a Deputy Police Commissioner Mr Sanjay Kundu (Indian Police Service) was also present there. The latest political developments in the Mission led to widespread inter- tribe violence and large displacement of locals. In the ensuing intrastate conflict, two Indian Peacekeepers lost their lives while ensuring Protection of Civilians. The current situation continues to be highly volatile and sporadic clashes between the tribes are being reported regularly. In Golan Heights (UNDOF), since February 2006, A Logistics battalion with 190 personnel has been deployed to look after the logistics security of UNDOF. Maj.Gen. I.S. Singha is the Force Commander since July 2012. Current crisis due to Syrian confl ict has impacted the mission and exchange of fi re between the Syrian Forces and the armed groups have put the Peacekeepers in grave danger They had also provided much-needed services to the community outside of their core mandate, such as medical care for local residents and support for local farmers with veterinary treatment for their animals, India has so far, provided two Military Advisors (Brig. Inderjit Rikhye and Lt Gen R K Mehta), two Police Advisers (Ms Kiran Bedi), one Deputy Military Adviser (Lt Gen Abhijit Guha), 14 Force Commanders and numerous Police Commissioners in various UN Missions. India was reappointed to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission in December 2010, for a third 2-year term. India is supportive of nationally-led plans for peace consolidation while arguing for a constructive approach and a "lighter touch" by the Peacebuilding Commission in extending advice, support and in extending its involvement. India has also been contributing to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. Rebuilt in record 10 days by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in collaboration with the government, it has greatly benefi ted humanitarians, enabling faster aid delivery as well as security patrol and outreach activities by the Mission, according to a UN statement. Current Assignments in West Asia & North Africa Region In Lebanon (UNIFIL) Since Dec 1998, one infantry battalion group, Level II Hospital comprising 650 peacekeepers from all ranks and 23 staff offi cers till date have been deployed. The current situation in the Mission is tense and volatile due to the crises in Syria & its bordering regions with Lebanon. UNIFIL's mandate is renewed by United Nations Security Council annually. In Sudan and South Sudan, (UNMIS/UNMISS) Since *The author has worked on several peacekeeping missions conducted by The United Nations (Mostly in Africa). Previously she worked with the Government of India. West Asia-North Africa• 31