ON the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers we pay tribute to the over 3200 military, police and civilian personnel who have died in service for the cause of establishing peace worldwide. A few things brand Bangladesh as a courageous and proud nation globally, and in this regard the role of our peacekeepers has been more than just great.
Going back to the turbulent days of the late eighties when we participated in two operations -- UNIIMOG in Iran-Iraq and UNTAG in Namibia -- and since then till November 2013 Bangladesh contributed with the second highest number of total Peacekeepers to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations; with (1,830 police, 73 UNMEM and 6,605 troops) attached to various UN peacekeeping forces worldwide.
For displaying outstanding discipline and efficiency the BBC, a decade back, marked our peacekeepers as 'the cream of the UN peacekeepers.' Success surely came but at the cost of lives. Bangladesh registered its first peacekeeping casualty with the death of Lieutenant Colonel Md. Faizul Karim, who died in Windhoek, Namibia in April 1989. As of now, eighty-eight Bangladeshi peacekeepers have lost their lives, out of which eighty four belong to Bangladesh Army, one to Bangladesh Navy and three to Bangladesh Air Force. We compliment these brave sons of soil who risked their lives for the sake of establishing peace in foreign lands.
International days across the globe are observed routinely and temporarily forgotten till the day returns again. Besides commemorating the peacekeepers worldwide we focus on the message marking the peacekeeping a part of which says, “Un peacekeeping is looking at how innovation and technology can help the peacekeepers not only deliver in challenging environments but also to offer real value for money…and UN peacekeeping is also deploying new technologies such as unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles, refining our practices to better protect civilians and boosting the representation of women among its ranks.”
As we progress, we too feel the need for deploying our peacekeepers backed with latest and innovative technologies of peacekeeping. We too seek for opportunities where our women officers from the different forces can display their skills in the international arena. Finally, on the International Day of United Nations peacekeepers, we remember the 120,000 or more peacekeepers, serving in 17 missions in some of the most volatile and dangerous environments across the world. We salute them all.
The writer is Current Affairs Analyst , The Daily Star.