India is the fifth largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping with more than 5,500 military and police serving in peace operations in Abyei, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, the Middle East, Somalia, South Sudan and the Western Sahara (Images courtesy: United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in Congo and Ambassador of the European Union to the Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Indian peacekeepers brigade stationed in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are saving lives of thousands of civilians who are stranded in the aftermath of the Mount Nayargongo eruption in the region.
On May 22, the Nyiragongo volcano in Congo started erupting, triggering a series of small earthquakes. While lava flows stopped about one mile from Goma, the capital of North Kivu province in eastern Congo, the eruption caused significant damage, including to a critical water pipeline, cutting off drinking water access for as many as 500,000 people. The volcano last erupted in 2002.
As the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or MONUSCO (Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Republique democratique du Congo) carried helicopter and drone reconnaissance flights over the area to collect information on the activity of the volcano, the Indian Army personnel from the mission kicked off the rescue exercise within a few hours.
The Indian peacekeepers brigade not only evacuated people but also provided real-time updates on the volcanic eruption while guarding crucial assets in the area like the aviation base.
Since January 2005, India has deployed an augmented Infantry Brigade Group (three infantry battalions including RDB) with Level III Hospital, a large number of military observers & SOs and two Formed Police Units (FPU) with MONUSCO in Congo. The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), along with the support of MONUSCO continues to conduct operations to reduce the influence of the various rebel armed groups as the situation continues to be volatile and uncertain.
India is the fifth largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping with more than 5,500 military and police serving in peace operations in Abyei, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, the Middle East, Somalia, South Sudan and the Western Sahara. More than 250,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948 – cumulatively the largest from any country. While serving under the blue flag, 175 Indian soldiers have, so far made the supreme sacrifice.
The Indian Army has contributed outstanding force commanders, elite military contingents, impartial observers and dedicated staff officers to the UN peacekeeping operations for decades in UN peacekeeping endeavors. Time and again, India has risked the lives of its soldiers in peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations, not for any strategic gain, but in the service of an ideal – to strengthen the world body and international peace and security.
Indian troops' devotion to duty and excellent performance has been widely acclaimed, especially for the significant contribution that they have made for maintaining peace and stability in Africa and Asia.
During his meeting with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in New York on Tuesday, UN chief Antonio Guterres also appreciated India's peacekeeping operations, including at Goma.
Even now, when the Covid-19 pandemic has posed severe challenges to peacekeeping missions and peacekeepers, Indian peacekeeping missions have put in place a series of mitigation measures to promote the safety, security and health of all UN personnel while maintaining continuity of operations.
"During the pandemic, India readily answered the (UN) Secretary General’s call by upgrading its hospitals in United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and MONUSCO. We have also delivered 200,000 doses of Made-in-India Covid-19 vaccines for vaccinating all uniformed personnel deployed in various field missions and are pleased to note that close to 140,000 field personnel have already been vaccinated using the same," said Ambassador K. Nagaraj Naidu, the Deputy Permanent Representative at India's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York during a UNSC Open Debate 'Peacekeeping Operations: Improving safety and security of peacekeepers' on Tuesday.
"Even as we speak today, an Indian peacekeepers brigade stationed in Goma (DRC) are saving lives of civilians stranded in the aftermath of the Mount Nayargongo eruption in DRC," he added.
Meanwhile, as Indian army tackles the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano and disaster experts from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are carrying humanitarian activity in the area, India has pledged a helicopter unit for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and upgraded its medical facilities at MONUSCO (Goma) and UNMISS (Juba).
— Musabyimana Joseph (@josemiee2010) May 22, 2021