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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Peacekeepers day on Wednesday

Protecting vulnerable populations, promoting peace

  • 194,856 Bangladeshi peacekeepers deployed since 1981
  • 6,092 peacekeepers currently deployed in 13 countries
  • 493 women peacekeepers currently in different missions
  • 168 peacekeepers have died, 266 have been injured till date
Update : 29 May 2024, 12:10 AM

Over 6,000 Bangladeshi security personnel are working in 13 conflict-ridden countries, holding high esteem and professionalism as the world celebrates the International Day for UN Peacekeepers on Wednesday.

As the third top contributor as of March this year, the Bangladeshi blue helmets are risking their lives to establish peace across the globe. 

Bangladeshi peacekeepers have been risking their lives in service to global humanity since they joined the UN Blue Helmets in 1988. To date, 194,856 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have participated in 63 UN missions or assignments in 43 countries or locations.

Bangladeshi peacekeepers in UN peace keeping missions. Photo: ISPR

At present, 6,092 Bangladeshi peacekeepers are deployed in 13 countries. They are the Democratic Republic of Congo (2,028), South Sudan (1,678), Central African Republic (1,467), Abyei (532), Mali (215), Lebanon (119), Western Sahara (32), the US (11), Libya (2), Cyprus (2), Sudan (1), Yemen (1), and Ethiopia (1). 

The participation of women peacekeepers in global peace efforts is gradually increasing. As many as 3,038 women peacekeepers have successfully completed their missions, and currently, 493 women peacekeepers are working in various peacekeeping operations.

Today, Bangladeshi peacekeepers are renowned as role models in global peacekeeping by virtue of their proven professionalism, impartiality, integrity, and humane attitude amid the shivering cold of Bosnia, the scorching heat of the Sahara Desert, and the heavy humidity of East Asia.

Leaving behind religion, caste, political ideology, and regional discrimination, Bangladeshi peacekeepers have devoted themselves to the service of world humanity.

To date, 168 brave and valiant Bangladeshi peacekeepers have laid down their lives, and 266 peacekeepers have suffered major injuries for the greater cause of world peace. Their sacrifices have brightened the country's image before the world.

To commemorate their selfless efforts, the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers is observed every year on May 29. This year's theme is “Fit for the Future, Building Better Together.”

Bangladesh has organized a detailed program to observe the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers today, the Inter-Services Public Relations Directorate (ISPR) announced in a release.

The program will commence with the Peacekeeper Run-2023 at the old airport ground in the capital's Tejgaon area.

Later, a ceremony will be held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka, where the families and relatives of injured and martyred peacekeepers will be honoured. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will attend the event as the chief guest.

Bangladesh Television and BTV World will broadcast the reception live.

Bangladeshi peacekeepers in UN peace keeping missions. Photo: ISPR

Over the last four decades, Bangladeshi experts and troops have made significant contributions to UN peacekeeping missions on a large scale.

As of March 31, Bangladesh is the third largest contributing country to the UN peacekeeping force. In 2023, Bangladesh was the second largest, and in 2022, it was the top contributor in terms of experts on mission, formed police units, individual police, staff officers, and troops, according to the UN website.

Significantly, the number of UN mission experts from Bangladesh has been rising in recent years, and many top-level Armed Forces officers are leading several UN missions.

Bangladesh began its journey in UN peacekeeping operations with the deployment of only 15 peacekeepers from the Bangladesh Army in the Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG) in 1988.

Subsequently, Bangladesh Police joined UN peacekeeping operations in Namibia in 1989, while the Bangladesh Navy participated in Mozambique and the Bangladesh Air Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1993.

Bangladesh denounces conspiracy

In recent times, some international quarters have raised questions about the role of Bangladeshi peacekeepers in the UN. However, responsible officials of Bangladesh are terming these allegations as conspiracies against the country.

During a press briefing on Monday, General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, the chief of the army staff, dismissed allegations against several army officers as baseless and motivated by ulterior motives.

General Shafiuddin criticized the publication of a recent report, suggesting it was issued with malicious intent. He assured that the army would eventually disprove these allegations, referencing a similar incident in 2013 aimed at tarnishing the military's reputation.

"We will be able to give a proper answer to all these conspiracies with our professionalism and, above all, our responsibility in the UN arena, In Sha Allah," he said at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operations Training (BIPSOT) in Rajendrapur, Gazipur.

Bangladesh – Chief of Army Staff of Bangladesh General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed addressing a press briefing on Monday following the inauguration of the 12th Annual General Meeting and Workshop of the Association of Asia-Pacific Peace Operations Training Centers (AAPTC) at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operations Training (BIPSOT) in Rajendrapur, Gazipur, May 27, 2024. Photo: UNB

The Army chief praised the exemplary professionalism and success of the Bangladesh Armed Forces in UN peacekeeping missions and commended BIPSOT's role in providing high-quality training for peacekeepers.

"Our armed forces have performed duties on many missions around the world, in 43 missions. More than 6,000 peacekeepers are still on duty. Can you give an example of a mission where we violated human rights or our discipline deteriorated? We have served not only in Africa but also in Asia and Europe. Have we ever been accused of human rights violations?" Gen Shafiuddin asked.

Earlier, on Saturday, the Bangladesh Army denounced a Deutsche Welle (DW) documentary for presenting a misleading portrayal of armed forces personnel in UN peacekeeping missions.

The documentary, titled “Torturers Deployed as UN Peacekeepers,” has been criticized for its portrayal of Bangladesh Army personnel. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the public relations division of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, issued a statement calling the report “false and fallacious.”

The DW report alleged that Bangladesh, like Sri Lanka, sent human rights violators involved in torture and killings to UN peacekeeping missions, including statements from unidentified law enforcement officers.

In addition to the high-ranking officials of the Bangladesh Army, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohammad Ali Arafat also criticized the report by the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW). Speaking at an event on Tuesday, he suggested that DW show its commitment to human rights and press freedom by making and broadcasting a documentary on the genocide orchestrated by Israeli forces in Gaza.

President, PM greet UN peacekeepers

President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina extended their heartfelt congratulations and felicitations to all members of the UN peacekeeping missions, marking the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers 2024, which will be observed today in Bangladesh and elsewhere across the globe, according to BSS.

In separate messages, they recalled all the valiant UN peacekeepers who made supreme sacrifices for upholding world peace and paid deep homage to them.

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