Two Indian peacekeepers, Brijesh Thapa and Ravi Kumar were among the 117 military, police and civilian personnel who were honoured with a prestigious UN medal, awarded posthumously for courage and sacrifice in the line of duty, on 24 May 2017.
While Rifleman Brijesh Thapa served with the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Private Ravi Kumar was deployed with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Both the martyrs received the Dag Hammarskjold Medal at a solemn ceremony conducted to observe the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.
• The two had laid down their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping operations in 2016.
• Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, India's Permanent Representative to the UN received the medal on the behalf of the martyred Indian peacekeepers.
• The ceremony was presided over by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who laid a wreath to honour all the fallen peacekeepers.
• Currently, more than 96000 uniformed personnel from 124 troop and police-contributing countries serve under the UN flag.
• These personnel are joined by more than 15000 international and national civilian staff and nearly 1600 United Nations Volunteers.
• India is the largest cumulative troop contributor. It has provided almost 200000 troops in nearly 50 out of the 71 peacekeeping missions mandated over the past six decades, including 13 of the current 16 missions.
• So far, around 168 Indian personnel have sacrificed themselves while serving in UN missions.
• Currently, over 7600 Indian military and police personnel are deployed in the UN peace operations in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, the Middle East, South Sudan, Sudan and the Western Sahara.
While paying his tribute to the fallen heroes, Guterres said that the continuous attacks against the peacekeepers are a reminder of the dangerous conditions in which they work.
He also added that UN peacekeeping is one of the international community's most effective investments to support peace, security and prosperity and though there are risks when deploying peacekeepers to a crisis area, inaction may carry even greater risks.
Guterres further emphasised on the need to continue investing in the safety of UN peacekeepers through modern technology, equipment and better intelligence gathering.
About the Dag Hammarskjold Medal
The award was established in July 1997 by the UN Security Council. The first medals were awarded in October 1998.
It is a posthumous award given to the members of peacekeeping operations who lost their lives during service with a peacekeeping operation under the operational control and authority of the United Nations.
It is named after Dag Hammarskjold, the second UN Secretary General, who had died in a mysterious plane crash in September 1961. He was posthumously awarded a Nobel Peace Prize the year he died.
When: 24 May 2017