New York: India is set to deploy a platoon of Women Peacekeepers in Sudan’s Abyei region 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.
In 2007, India became the first country to deploy an all-women contingent to a UN peacekeeping mission. The Formed Police Unit in Liberia provided 24-hour guard duty, conducted night patrols in the capital Monrovia, and helped to build the capacity of the Liberian police.
The Indian contingent, comprising two officers and 25 Other Ranks, will form part of an Engagement platoon and specialize in Community outreach, though they will be performing extensive security-related tasks as well, added the release.
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.
The deployment in Abyei will also herald India’s intent of increasing significantly the number of Indian women in Peacekeeping contingents, added the release.
The Security Council, by its resolution 1990 of 27 June 2011, responded to the urgent situation in Sudan’s Abyei region by establishing the UNISFA. The Security Council was deeply concerned by the violence, escalating tensions and population displacement.
The operation has been tasked with monitoring the flashpoint border between north and south and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid, and is authorized to use force in protecting civilians and humanitarian workers in Abyei.
UNISFA’s establishment came after the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) reached an agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to demilitarize Abyei and let Ethiopian troops monitor the area.
More than 200,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948.
India has a long tradition of sending women on UN peacekeeping missions. In 1960, women serving in the Indian Armed Forces Medical Services were interviewed by UN Radio before being deployed to the Republic of the Congo.
Women Peacekeepers are highly regarded in Peacekeeping 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, read the release.
Indian women particularly have a rich tradition in Peacekeeping. Dr Kiran Bedi, UN’s first Police Adviser, Major Suman Gawani and Shakti Devi have made a mark for themselves in UN Peacekeeping.
Our teams in the Congo and South Sudan have also done sterling work in mainstreaming women and children into Community and Social developmental projects at the grassroots level, the release said.
Indian peacekeepers have served in UN peacekeeping missions around the world. They protect civilians and support peace processes, and also carry out specialist tasks. In Eritrea, Indian engineers helped to rehabilitate roads as part of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).
Moreover, Indian doctors provided medical care to the local population in missions around the world, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Veterinary doctors are also sometimes deployed as part of the peacebuilding process.