Nepali UNMISS peacekeepers honoured with UN medal


United Nations honoured UN peacekeepers, including Nepali nationals in South Sudan, during a function held here today.

“I’m very proud to be a part of United Nations Mission in South Sudan,” said Captain Chunadevi Paudel, a peacekeeper from Nepal, upon receiving the United Nations medal for her commitment to the cause of durable peace across South Sudan. “I have been struck most by the people of South Sudan. They have been through so much pain, they have a higher degree of resilience and positive attitude towards life,” she said.

Captain Paudel was in Sudan as part of her first peacekeeping mission and she left behind her young son to wear the iconic blue beret. “Staying away from one’s children is hard,” she said adding, “But at the end of my deployment, I can truly say that I have learnt a lot from the host community and from all my fellow peacekeepers from different countries.” Captain Paudel is one of 850 Nepali peacekeepers, who received the UN medal today for their immense contribution to the mission’s mandate delivery during the most challenging and extraordinary time, when conflict and displacement in the world’s newest country have been exacerbated by the spread of COVID-19.

Nepali battalion has, in the past 11 months, conducted operational activities in some of the most sensitive areas of South Sudan, especially in Equatorias, undertaking diverse tasks such as force protection, community engagement and enhancing UNMISS’ situational awareness. Most importantly, they have protected civilians and prevented conflicts from escalating, read a press release issued by UNMISS.

Special Representative of UN Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS David Shearer commended the awardees for their professionalism, commitment and dedication. “I would particularly like to thank you for the support you provided to Pibor in Southern Sudan during the period of intense inter-communal violence and large-scale displacement of civilians. As such, you should be justifiably proud of your efforts to create positive and meaningful change for the people of South Sudan,” said Shearer.

Colonel Saroj Kumar Adhikari, Contingent Commander for Nepali battalion reiterated his country’s commitment to United Nations’ peacekeeping efforts. “Our country has a long history of contributing troops to United Nations. As peacekeepers we try to bring to all our deployments, the ability to understand the on-ground situation, respect the rule of the land, be dedicated to the mission’s objectives and always have a sense of pride in the duties we perform,” he said. Colonel Adhikari paid tribute to the generous spirit of South Sudanese communities.

As one of the first medal parades to be held in Juba following the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been a special day, not just for those being honoured, but for everyone attending and a testament to the peacekeeping mission’s commitment towards ensuring a just, equitable and sustainable peace for all communities in South Sudan. Nepal’s first deployment to UNMISS was in 2011. Since then its commitment has grown to over 2,000 personnel including military observers, staff officers, two battalions, the High Readiness Company as well as a formed police unit and individual police officers, read the release.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 30, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.