Over 1,100 Indian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were awarded UN medals, honouring them for their exceptional service in the strife-torn East African country.
The UNMISS "peacekeepers don't 'just' protect civilians. Some 1,160 troops from #India in #SouthSudan also rehabilitate roads, build the capacity of local communities and give medical treatment to humans & animals. For that they deserve @UN medals," the UNMISS said in a tweet on Thursday.
The 1,160 Indian peacekeepers currently serving in Upper Nile State were honoured with UN medals "for their outstanding and multifaceted work", including protecting civilians, performing engineering assignments and providing health services to humans and animals, a news report posted on the UNMISS website said.
The news report said that Indian engineering troops have rehabilitated key roads in the state, including the 75-kilometre long route from Malakal to Abwong via Baliet.
It added that the Indian contingent is also "well known, and beloved" for its frequent mobile veterinary clinics in different parts of Upper Nile State that provide veterinary services, which are otherwise rarely available to cattle owners, for cows, goats, donkeys, sheep and other animals in the country.
Recently, the vets treated about 1,749 animals in Renk in just two days, it said.
"We have a strong belief in supporting income-generating activities, like vocational trainings. With skills, one can earn money and feed a family," Commander of the contingent Colonel Vijay Rawat was quoted as saying in the UNMISS news report.
"In December last year, we organised trainings in carpentry, masonry and on how to make use of rain and water, and we hope that participants will be able to make a living. We want to be remembered for having left positive memories among the people living here," Col Rawat said.
The contingent also held computer literacy workshops for girls and boys.
"It is an honour to receive this medal, which will embellish my uniform for the rest of my career. We provide medical services to peacekeepers and the local population, but we also share our knowledge on prevention of diseases and gender-based violence," the report quoted Major Pooja Nair, a doctor and one of only two women in the current Indian contingent, as saying.
India is one of the largest troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions. Currently, 2,385 Indian military personnel, the second-highest after Rwanda, and 30 police personnel are deployed with the UNMISS.