Bangladesh's peacekeepers continue to establish their mark as global peace ambassadors.
Surpassing national boundaries, they serve as beacons of peace in distressed countries far from their homeland. Alongside conflict resolution, they are setting notable precedents in the fields of education, healthcare, and socio-economic development among the local populace.
Currently, Bangladesh has an impressive total of 7,436 peacekeepers deployed across 14 countries, including the DR Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Mali, and Lebanon.
ISPR reports a breakdown of the peacekeepers: 6,043 from the Bangladesh Army, 359 from the Bangladesh Navy, 522 from the Bangladesh Air Force, and 512 from the Bangladesh Police. The ranks of these peacekeepers also include 572 dedicated female members, with a historical total of 2,728 having completed their missions.
These peacekeepers have not been without sacrifice; 167 brave souls have fallen in the line of duty. This count includes 131 members from the Bangladesh Army, 4 members from the Bangladesh Navy, 9 members from the Bangladesh Air Force, and 23 members from the Bangladesh Police. Some 259 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have been injured. A total of 1,88,558 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have completed 63 UN peacekeeping missions in 40 countries.
Chief of Army Staff General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed said, “Today, the Bangladesh Army is a brand name in the UN Peacekeeping Operations across the globe. However, this honour was achieved through the sacrifices of 131 valiant peacekeepers of Bangladesh Army.” He also expressed deep respect to all deceased and wounded peacekeepers and their families on the International Day of UN Peacekeepers-2023.
Lt Gen Waker-Uz-Zaman, Principal Staff Officer of Armed Forces Division, echoed the sentiment, praising the reputation of the Bangladesh Armed Forces and Police in their UN peacekeeping role. He also acknowledged the importance of their contribution in uplifting Bangladesh's international image.
The journey of these peacekeepers, donning the Blue Helmet, began in 1988, with 15 observers deployed to the United Nations Iraq-Iran Military Observer Group mission (UNIIMOG). The Bangladesh Police joined the peacekeeping operations in 1989, followed by the Bangladesh Navy and Air Force in 1993.
As the world observes International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers today, Bangladesh has planned various programmes. The day's itinerary starts with a 'Peace Keepers Run,' with Foreign Affairs Minister AK Abdul Momen attending as the chief guest.
A special event will be held tomorrow at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre to honour the families of the fallen and injured Bangladeshi peacekeepers. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to attend as the chief guest. Special presentations on UN peacekeeping operations are also scheduled.
This year, five families of martyred peacekeepers and five injured peacekeepers are being honoured.
Documentaries showcasing Bangladesh's peacekeeping activities will be aired on Bangladesh Television and other private channels, along with special talk-shows on the occasion. National dailies are publishing special supplements, and journals highlighting the significance of the day.
The noble actions and sacrifices of these peacekeepers continually strengthen Bangladesh's global image and contribute towards a peaceful and united world.