Bangladeshi engineering troops receive their UN medals from the Head of UNMISS, David Shearer.
Just three weeks ago, Bangladeshi peacekeepers were paying tribute to their colleague Ashraf Siddiqui, who was killed in action by an armed group in South Sudan.
The Lieutenant Commander was travelling as part of a peacekeeping convoy providing protection to humanitarians delivering aid to vulnerable civilians in Central Equatoria when it was attacked by gunmen.
Today, the Bangladeshi contingent again remembered his sacrifice as 260 of their engineers received the United Nations medal for their service to peacekeeping and the people of South Sudan. The engineers were the first contingent deployed to the conflict-affected country under the Regional Protection Force, mandated by the UN Security Council.
“Bangladesh being a peacekeeping country believes in the coexistence of peace and friendly relations among states,” said Bangladeshi Brigadier General Muhamed Masum at a medal ceremony in the capital Juba. “We are highly concerned about international peace and security in relation to stability around the globe.”
The contingent has carried out a number of major reconstruction projects over the past year, rehabilitating roads, building bases, servicing water points and even repairing football grounds for young sports fans in Juba.
“I think engineering companies have the distinct advantage of people being able to see what they have been able to achieve unlike many of the other contributions that we see. In the case of the Bangladeshi contingent, we are able to see a lot,” said the Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, David Shearer.
He particularly acknowledged the 155 kilometers of road from Juba to Yei that needed to be repaired before a new base could be established to provide a greater protective presence for civilians suffering from a surge in violence in the area.
Bangladesh has contributed to UN peacekeeping for 30 years and is now the second largest Troop Contributing Country. It is particularly committed to increasing the number of female officers.
“The United Nations is highly concerned about the gender equality and does emphasize the participation of females in TCCS,” said the Brigadier General. “The Bangladesh government is amply aware of that and trying to incorporate more females than before.”
Bangladesh currently has more than 7,000 troops and police serving across 11 missions. It has lost 143 peacekeepers who died while on active duty wearing the blue helmet.