(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Testifying to the camaraderie and close cooperation between Armed Forces of India and Sri Lanka way beyond the boundaries of the two countries, 135 Indian and 103 Sri Lankan peacekeepers from the two countries serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) received medals of recognition from the UN Force Commander in Bor earlier this week for their contribution. Recognizing the services by peacekeepers from the India and Sri Lanka, UN Force Commander Lieutenant General Shailesh Tinaikar congratulated them for ‘their contributions towards the fulfilment of the UNMISS mandate in this challenging environment’.
These peacekeepers were selected from among troops belonging to various nationalities. With 2,418 Indian and 686 Sri Lankan personnel, they jointly constitute more than 20% of the total strength of serving personnel in UNMISS.
Indian peacekeepers are mainly stationed in Bor, Pibor and at a temporary operating base in Akobo. Medal winners from Sri Lanka are from the Blue Berets aviation unit. The Indian peacekeepers serve in sensitive parts of South Sudan and have engaged in a variety of activities, including civil-military cooperation such as veterinary camps in different parts of the country. Sri Lankan peacekeepers carry out their relentless work despite two helicopters being shot in the past.
India and Sri Lanka share close ties in defence and security. It may be recalled that Government of India deployed multiple assets within hours from receiving a request from Sri Lanka to douse the fire on MV XPress Pearl and address environmental concerns. India’s role as the ‘first responder’ in crises in the region was also on display during Operation Sagar Araksha I in September 2020 and the floods in Sri Lanka in May 2017. Multi-dimensional nature of bilateral engagement in the defence and security spheres cut across diverse areas including maritime security, joint exercises etc.