UN official praises Bangladesh's role
UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix has highly appreciated Bangladeshi soldiers for their contribution to peacekeeping and serving in some of the most challenging conditions.
“I should say we particularly appreciate the fact that Bangladeshi soldiers are serving everywhere, including the most challenging environments. This is something we want to pay a tribute to and recognise,” the top UN official said.
In an interview with The Daily Star at Radisson Blu hotel on Sunday, he also lauded Bangladesh's “very strong” political commitment to engage in peacekeeping.
“We have to work together to address today's challenges to peacekeeping…today's peacekeeping is very different from yesterday's peacekeeping. It is more dangerous, it is more challenging and more demanding as well. All of us need to address this new reality, but I am confident that Bangladesh will manage to carry out these adjustments.”
Responding to a question about the recent spike in the number of killing of UN peacekeepers and subsequent safety measures, Lacroix said the safety and security of peacekeepers were the number one priority and the UN had launched an action plan to reduce the number of fatalities among peacekeepers.
Paying special tributes to 144 Bangladeshi peacekeepers, who lost their lives while on duty, he said the UN action plan touched several key issues like training, leadership, performance, equipment and medical allocation.
“We are very appreciative of the decision made by the Bangladeshi authorities to send mine protector vehicles to Bangladeshi contingent in northern Mali.”
He stressed the need for working together to reduce the number of fatalities and better protect the peacekeepers and the people they serve.
“We know we can always turn to Bangladesh to request for support, and we know Bangladesh political and military high-ups will always seek out ways to help us and support us,” he said, adding, “We also appreciate the innovative contribution from Bangladesh to peacekeeping.”
Noting that Bangladesh is increasing the number of women in its contingent, he said more women in peacekeeping meant more effective peacekeeping.
“We appreciate the all-female police units; we appreciate the female military officers, helicopter pilots, staff officers, military observers. It is a very valuable contribution. Similarly, we appreciate the contribution in training officers in foreign languages, particularly in French.”
Asked whether the UN has any plans to increase the number of Bangladeshi peacekeepers, he said, on one hand, they were going through times when the number of peacekeepers was decreasing as the UN had successfully closed a few operations in Ivory Coast and Liberia and had been downsizing in some others. On the other hand, there are potentials to create opportunities for new deployments from Bangladesh at the biggest peacekeeping operations.
About appointing Bangladeshis in higher positions, he said, “We are actually happy to count many high rankling Bangladeshi military officers in our peacekeeping operations.”
Bangladesh is currently the second biggest contributor of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping.
“We have distinguished Bangladeshi force commander on mission in Cyprus, where over 1,000 personnel are serving, and we also have three Bangladeshi generals in positions of sector commanders in our biggest operations and these responsibilities are extremely important. We very much value the service of these high-ranking military from Bangladesh.”
Till May 31, 2018 a total of 7,099 troops and police were deployed in 11 UNPKOs.
UN TO HELP RESOLVE ROHINGYA CRISIS
The UN is fully committed to helping Rohingya people and ensure their safe and voluntary return to their homeland from Bangladesh, Lacroix said.
There is also strong commitment of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who really takes personal interest in the issue, he added.
Lacroix pointed out three things when asked whether UN peacekeepers would be deployed in Rakhine State.
First of all, there is enormous recognition for the tremendous efforts that Bangladesh is making through opening its border to the Rohingya people and sheltering them, he said.
Secondly, the UN is completely determined to continue to help in all possible ways, including humanitarian support and advocacy and all kinds of ways to not only help the people, but also reach the point where conditions will be there for safe and voluntary return of Rohingyas to their homeland.
“I think the third aspect about peacekeeping is that peacekeeping requires the decision by the Security Council of the UN, and also the consent of the host government. There are also a number of conditions for peacekeeping operations.”
Lacroix mentioned that peacekeeping was not the only solution as there were many other ways, including addressing the political dimension of the crisis.