Peacekeepers from the elite Nepalese reserve forces have provided life-saving assistance to the people of war-torn South Sudan for almost a year.
They demonstrated their efforts to protect civilians in a dramatization of the rules of engagement they operate under during a special medal ceremony in the capital Juba today.
The sound of fake gunfire rang out across the compound as actors mimicking an armed group attacked a convoy of trucks and looted its contents. Within seconds, a Nepalese armored personnel carrier and peacekeeping troops rushed to the scene issuing a warning to the aggressors before firing back to deter their continuing attack on civilians and soldiers.
The dramatization was very similar to the situation the troops encountered in June, when a humanitarian convoy they were protecting came under attack from an armed group in the south of the country, resulting in the death of fellow peacekeeper Lieutenant Commander Ashraf Siddiqui from Bangladesh.
The Head of UNMISS, David Shearer praised the robust response of the Nepalese forces in that situation, saying their efforts had deterred the attackers and saved other lives.
“The medal you have been awarded today is a symbol of what you have been able to achieve on behalf of the UN for the people of South Sudan,” he said. “You have served the people of South Sudan so that they can get through this conflict, with the incredible price that it has paid in terms of lost lives and the needs they have required in terms of protection of human rights and humanitarian assistance. I hope that you wear these medals with the pride in which we have given them to you.”
The commander of the Nepalese contingent said that his countrymen and women were committed to continuing their quest for global peace despite the risks.
“While deployed, Nepalese peacekeepers have never shied away from taking action even at the risk of their own lives when it comes to mandate implementation,” said Brigadier General Nain Raj Dahal. “So far, 63 peacekeepers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the quest for peace whereas 66 have been disabled. A figure that is indicative of Nepal’s strong resolve to continue its participation in maintaining peace across the globe.”
Nepal’s reserve force battalion in South Sudan protect civilians by patrolling across the country, facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian aid and provide a secure environment for displaced people living in UN protection camps. Those receiving the UN medal today have served in South Sudan since October 2017.
More than 122,000 Nepalese peacekeepers have served in UN missions over more than 60 years. Currently, 5,027 troops are serving in 12 different missions. Just over 1,700 are working with the people of South Sudan to protect civilians and build durable peace.
Courtesy: UN Information Center (UNIC), Kathmandu