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Tilottama Rani Charulata
Today May 29 (Sunday) is International UN Peacekeeper Day. Like other countries of the world, the day is being celebrated this year with due dignity in Bangladesh.
The outstanding contribution of peacekeepers of all countries participating in UN peacekeeping operations is remembered with deep respect on this day.
Bangladesh has undertaken various programs to celebrate the International United Nations Peacekeepers Day. The program of the day begins in the morning with the remembrance of peacekeepers. The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, May 29, is “an international day to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication, and courage and to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.
Bangladesh became a member of the United Nations on September 17, 1974, and on September 25, the greatest Bengali father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, gave his historic speech in Bengal at the United Nations General Session and expressed his firm commitment to Bangladesh’s continued support for peace throughout the world. As a result, Bangladesh has been actively participating in all peacekeeping activities conducted under the United Nations to establish world peace.
Bangladesh’s foreign policy is being conducted in accordance with the ideal of ‘friendship with all, enmity with none’ – the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In continuation of this, Bangladesh has set a unique example of peace and harmony today. The Bangladesh Armed forces are always determined to uphold the status of Bangladesh, which sends top peacekeepers to UN peacekeeping missions around the world, overcoming all obstacles. At present, Bangladesh Army is increasing the country’s reputation not only in internal affairs but also in the international arena by showing its highest professionalism. Today, Bangladesh Army is an indispensable name in establishing world peace with its unimaginable success of work ethic and professionalism.
This progress began with the deployment of only 15 military observers in the 1988 UN Iran-Iraq Military Observation Group (UNIMOG) mission. In the following years, the Bangladesh Army consolidated its position in the United Nations peacekeeping mission as an embodiment of professionalism and dedication by showing skill and bravery. Bangladesh’s participation in the UN Mission in its first decade was full of ups and downs. But undoubtedly the experience of the first decade enriched the Bangladesh Army in carrying out its assigned duties in the next decade. The parties or groups involved in the conflict must try to reassure them that the peacekeepers’ aim is not to hurt anyone, but rather to protect the lives of civilians and UN staff members.
It is to be noted that Bangladesh is currently performing the assigned duties in 9 United Nations peacekeeping missions with great efficiency and reputation as the top peacekeeping sending country. Bangladesh has recently regained its position as the top peacekeeping sending country. Reclaiming this spot as the top peacekeeping sending country on the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation is undoubtedly an enviable milestone.
Against the backdrop of constant conflict with more than 150 militia forces across the African continent of unique dimensions, the work of the dedicated Bangladeshi peacekeepers wearing blue helmets is widely acclaimed worldwide today. Bangladesh is a top peacekeeping sending country engaged in post-conflict peace building with a strong commitment to global peacekeeping and establishing and maintaining friendly relations between nations.
At present, 15 contingents of Bangladesh have been included in the United Nations Capability Readiness System (UNPCRS), thereby opening the door for new contingents to be deployed in UN peacekeeping missions. Assessment and advisory inspection of these contingents are in process through the UN delegation. Two contingents have already qualified as UNPCRS, Rapidly Deployable Level (RDL). Bangladesh is currently the top peacekeeping sending country for UN peacekeeping operations. Six thousand 802 peacekeepers of Bangladesh are on duty in nine missions around the world. 161 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have sacrificed their lives so far while on duty.
Even from 8 thousand 500 kilometers away from the country, being a part of Bangladeshi peacekeepers as frontline fighters in the corona epidemic has gained a rare experience in professional life. Since the United Nations works with multinational forces, coordinating with the thinking of each country’s military, keeping in touch with commanders of different countries despite linguistic differences, it is undoubtedly a challenging task to coordinate and execute the right plan, which Bangladeshi peacekeepers excel at. Observing
Uncertainty of traveling to the UN mission, duration of stay, inadequacy of preparation time for self and family, long separation from family, different language and culture, adequate preparation for the mission, uncertainty of adapting to the environment, etc. create psychological stress in the deployment of UN peacekeeping missions. Which is very normal for an international peacekeeper? Besides, the adverse reaction that the terrible and extremely hostile environment of the battlefield creates in the mind and brain is multiplied by witnessing the atrocities and ruins of war. Despite all these pressures, the proud members of the Bangladesh Army continue to play a direct role efficiently in the UN missions.
After 50 years of its establishment, the members of the Bangladesh Army have made themselves the pride of the nation through their hard work, spirit, patriotism and skill as a professional force. Despite the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has been going on for the past two years, the Bangladesh Army has been contributing to UN peacekeeping missions in various countries around the world. Initiated with the motto ‘We are in war, we are in peace, we are everywhere, on the country’s land’, the Bangladesh Army stands tall in the world today through its skills and professionalism. A trained and disciplined force like the Bangladesh Army is making a unique and contemporary contribution to global peacekeeping by participating in UN mandated peacekeeping missions anywhere in the world, which has undoubtedly brightened the image of Bangladesh in the outside world.
The opportunities for the Bangladesh Army to work in a multinational environment like the United Nations are many. By participating in this kind of international environment, Bangladesh Army is able to be a direct partner of all policies and technological developments organized due to global progress in the military sector, on the one hand, just as the military personnel engaged in peacekeeping are getting the opportunity to communicate and exchange experience with the military personnel of different countries. As a result, the various linguistic skills, military professionalism, craft and personal capabilities of Bangladeshi peacekeepers are increasing. Foreign exchange earned through participation in peacekeeping missions has added an important dimension to the country’s economy. Note that considering the future prospects of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission, an opportunity has been created for the Bangladesh Army to purchase new military equipment.
This ongoing process is undeniable for any country’s military modernization. Peacekeeping missions have also created indirect financial benefits for the Bangladeshi economy, particularly in the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors, creating new markets for Bangladeshi businessmen. For example, currently Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have set up farms by leasing agricultural land in various African countries, which is playing a positive role in meeting the food demand of both Bangladesh and the leasing countries, and at the same time it is playing an important role in the economy of both countries.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s March 7 speech in 1971 – ‘This time is our struggle for freedom, this time is our struggle for freedom’. The liberation war started with Bangabandhu’s declaration of independence on March 26, 1971. Responding to Bangabandhu’s call, Bengali officers and members of the armed forces left the Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Force and joined the Liberation Army. We will never be able to repay the debt of their brave sacrifice during the liberation war in 1971. The ‘Bangladesh Army’ of the dream of the great leader of the Bengali nation, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is today working. beyond the borders of its own country with great efficiency and reputation in the international arena.
Bangladeshi peacekeepers have opened the doors of future possibilities for the Bangladesh Armed Forces by facing the global challenges in sending troops to the United Nations peacekeeping missions and performing their duties very efficiently. Today, Bangladesh stands tall in the world as a self-respecting country. Bangladeshi people will build a non-communal, hunger and poverty-free golden Bangladesh as dreamed by the father of the nation and the reputation and image of Bangladesh will shine brighter in the outside world through the activities of the peace keeping mission.
The Prime Minister hoped that the peacekeeping members would establish Bangladesh as a strong peace-making country in the world and make the country’s image brighter and brighter through their skills, professionalism, courage and dedication in peacekeeping activities.
On the occasion of the International Day of Peacekeepers, the United Nations Headquarters in New York has posthumously awarded the ‘Dag Hammarskjöld’ medal to the peacekeepers who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty IN 2022. This time, two peacekeepers of Bangladesh, Lieutenant Colonel AKM Mahmudul Hasan and Lance Corporal Md. Rabiul Molla received this honorable medal.
Medalist Lieutenant Colonel AKM Mahmudul Hasan deployed in the Central African Republic in the Minuska mission and Lance Corporal Md. Rabiul Molla lost his life while on duty in UNMIS mission in South Sudan. Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, received the medal from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on May 26.
Tilottama Rani Charulata is an independent researcher. She is interested in the Bangladesh and Rohingya refugee affairs. She is currently living in Canada