“Largest unit of women peacekeepers” from India is sent to the UN mission in Abyei

India is set to deploy a platoon of Women Peacekeepers in Sudan’s Abyei region today (January 6) as part of the Indian Battalion in the United Nations Interim Security Force (UNISFA). This will be India’s largest single unit of women Peacekeepers in a UN Mission since it deployed the first-ever all-women contingent in Liberia in 2007, stated the Permanent Mission of India to the UN press release.

India, , which is the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping, is sending a battalion of female peacekeepers to Abeyei. This is the company’s largest single unit of female Blue Helmets in a UN deployment since 2007.

“India is deploying an all #women’s platoon of peacekeepers as part of our battalion to the UN Mission in #Abyei @UNISFA_1. This is the single largest deployment of women #peacekeepers in recent years. Good wishes to the team!” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN ambassador Ruchira Kamboj tweeted Thursday, along with a photo of the contingent.

India’s Permanent Mission to the UN said in a statement that the platoon of women peacekeepers will be deployed in Abyei as part of the Indian Battalion in the United Nations Interim Security Force, Abyei (UNISFA) on January 6, 2023.

“This will be India’s largest single unit of women peacekeepers in a UN Mission since we deployed the first-ever all-women’s contingent in Liberia in 2007. It will also herald India’s intent of increasing significantly the number of Indian women in Peacekeeping contingents,” read the statement.

It further added “The Indian contingent, comprising two officers and 25 other ranks, will form part of an engagement platoon and specialise in community outreach and will be performing extensive security-related tasks as well. “Their presence will be especially welcome in Abyei, where a recent spurt in violence has triggered a spate of challenging humanitarian concerns for women and children in the conflict zone,”

Last year in September , Kamboj stated in a Security Council Briefing on United Nations Peacekeeping that the role of women peacekeepers cannot be over-emphasised ineffective peacekeeping.

She had emphasised that India was proud to have sent the nation’s first-ever all-female peacekeeping mission to Liberia in 2007., “which inspired a whole generation of Liberian women to take part in the country’s security sector. We stand ready to contribute further to this regard.”

The Indian mission noted in the statement that women peacekeepers are “highly regarded” in UN missions throughout the world for their ability to reach out and connect with women and children in local populations, especially victims of sexual violence in conflict zones.

The UN’s first police adviser, Dr. Kiran Bedi, United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award honoree Major Suman Gawani, and Shakti Devi have all made a name for themselves in UN Peacekeeping, the statement read. “Indian women particularly have a rich tradition in peacekeeping,” it added.

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

In 2014, the Jammu and Kashmir State Police, dispatched to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), awarded Devi the International Female Police Peacekeeper Award from the United Nations Police for her “outstanding achievement” in the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan. She helps victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

“Our teams in Congo and South Sudan have done an excellent job involving women and children in grassroots community and social development projects,” said the Indian delegation.

The 125-strong Indian Formed Police Unit’s contribution to the UN mission in Liberia has been praised for encouraging women in the West African country to become police officers. Then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the Indian women’s peacekeeping unit in Liberia as an inspiration for everyone, saying that their conduct served as an example of how women can aid the international body in its efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.

India, with 5887 troops and personnel deployed across 12 missions as of October 31, 2022, is the second-largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations after Bangladesh (7,017).

According to the government, The women will “form part of an engagement platoon and specialize in community outreach…though they will be performing extensive security related tasks as well… Their presence will be especially welcome in Abyei, where a recent spike in violence has triggered a spate of challenging humanitarian concerns for women and children,”

During the visit to Cyprus last month, foreign minister S Jaishankar praised the contribution of Indian peacekeepers working with the UN. He tweeted pictures and said, “Indian peacekeepers serving under the UN flag are appreciated throughout the world.”

With nearly 6,000 personnel, India is the second-largest contributor to UN missions, according to news agency PTI

More than 2 lakh Indians served

More than 200,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948. Here, Indian troops join Danish and Swedish peacekeepers on a training exercise on a beach in Gaza in 1958 as part of the UN Emergency Force.

Indian women have a long history of participating in UN peacekeeping missions. Before being sent to the Republic of the Congo in 1960, women working in the Indian Armed Forces Medical Services were interviewed by UN Radio.

India was the first nation to send an entirely female contingent on a UN peacekeeping mission in 2007. In order to strengthen the capabilities of the Liberian police, the Formed Police Unit in Liberia provided round-the-clock security and carried out night patrols in the nation’s capital, Monrovia.

Indian peacekeepers have participated in UN peacekeeping operations all over the world. They carry out specialized tasks as well as protecting civilians and promoting peace processes. As part of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), Indian engineers assisted in the rehabilitation of roads in Eritrea.

Indian doctors provide medical care to the local population in missions around the world, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Indian peacekeepers have served in some of the most physically demanding and harshest environments, including South Sudan.

Peacekeepers have also brought the ancient Indian practice of yoga to UN missions. Here, members of the UN mission in Lebanon, UNIFIL, take to the mat on International Yoga Day.

Currently, there are more than 6,700 troops and police from India who have been deployed to UN peacekeeping missions, the fourth highest amongst troop-contributing countries.

More than 160 Indian peacekeepers died while working for the UN, paying the ultimate price for maintaining peace.

Women Peacekeepers improve efficacy of missions

According to the United Nations, peacekeeping operations have improved as a result of the inclusion of more women. According to the UN, women made up 4.8% of military contingents and 10.9% of formed police units out of approximately 95,000 peacekeepers in 2020.

In contrast, women made up about 34% of the peacekeeping mission staff. “Women’s participation in these missions makes a difference in and of itself. In some cultures, female victims are not permitted to communicate with males. Women peacekeepers make it simpler for the authorities to communicate with them in that specific situation, according to Seema Dhundia, a deputy inspector-general at the RAF who oversaw the first-ever all-female FPU in Liberia in 2007.

Dhundia emphasizes that a sizable portion of victims in conflict-ridden areas are women and children. According to her, women can effectively communicate with conflict victims and create a channel of trust and confidence by doing so. They’ve been educated and trained. They are aware of the trauma suffered by women and children. Because they are better communicators than their male counterparts, women are able to penetrate deeper into societies and communities and establish contact with victims because they can relate to them, the expert claims.

The women peacekeepers inspired Liberian women to go to work without fear and take part in public life, according to Inspector Prasad, who also traveled to Liberia in 2015. They also pushed kids to attend school. “Our mission had such a profound effect that they no longer experience fear. I cherished taking part in the community service. We could directly listen to people’s problems, engage them, and provide assistance, says Prasad

What is UNISFA?

United Nations Interim Security Force (UNISF) is the UN Peacekeeping Forces that were established in 1948 after the UN Security Council authorized the sending of UN military observers to the Middle East. Nations are helped by UN peacekeeping forces as they negotiate the risky change from war to peace. It sends out soldiers, police, and civilian peacekeepers from all over the world to execute a number of missions authorized by the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the UN General Assembly. Every year on May 29, UN Peacekeepers International Day is observed.

India and UNPKF

India is among the nations that send the most troops to the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces.Example: India is the second-highest military and fifth-highest police contributing country to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

Since 1948, more than 2,60,000 Indians have participated in 49 U.N. peacekeeping missions.

India was the first nation to send an entirely female contingent on a UN peacekeeping mission in 2007.

179 Indian soldiers have lost their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping missions over the past 60 years.

It is the country with the highest death toll among “blue helmets.”

The UN’s Blue Helmets are its military employees who collaborate with the UN Police and their civilian coworkers to advance “stability, security, and peace processes.”

From a political and security perspective, the environment in which peacekeeping operations are taking place is getting worse.

Soldiers are involved in numerous operations, particularly large operations like those in Africa, where the enemy is often a criminal or terrorist group that prefers unrest to peace and stability.

How can we prevent these fatalities?

In peacekeeping operations, geographic balance and evenness must be preserved. The nations providing police and peacekeeping forces will need to be geographically more diverse, which will take a lot of work.

India has presented a 10-point formula to address security and operational challenges faced by United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world. To accomplish the objectives of operations, the leadership of a peacekeeping force must build confidence and ensure efficient cooperation with the host state.

Countries participating in peacekeeping missions must determine the agenda, not the Security Council. With a thorough understanding of their limits, peacekeeping missions should be deployed sensibly.

Clearly defined objectives that are supported by adequate resources. “All-out efforts” should be made to prosecute those responsible for atrocities against peacekeepers. It is essential for ending violent conflicts and constructing global security against external threats. Using cutting-edge technology in peacekeeping operations can help overcome security issues. When assessing a mission, the military, civilians, and mission leadership should all be taken into account.

Peacekeeping deployments should be planned with an “exit strategy” in mind from the start. The host government has the primary responsibility for defending its citizens from non-state groups operating on its territory.

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(With Inputs from careerindia)