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Peacekeepers brighten Bangladesh image abroad: PM Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said Bangladesh is ready to send more members to the UN peacekeeping missions as the country is committed to playing a stronger role in the establishment of world peace.

“If needed further, we’re ready to send the required number of peacekeepers in response to the call of the United Nations,” she said, reports UNB.

The prime minister was addressing a programme of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2022, held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) here, through a videoconference from her official residence Ganobhaban.

“We are committed to playing a stronger role in the establishment of world peace, keeping in view ‘People Peace Progress: the Power of Partnership,’ the theme of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers-2022,” she said.

Hasina called upon all Bangladeshi peacekeepers, including ones of the Bangladesh Army, Navy, Air Force and Police, to carry out their respective responsibilities with sincerity while maintaining professionalism and integrity in the global peacekeeping operations.

She also asked them to try to keep their lives protected in the missions and brighten the image of the country on the world stage.

“Keep it in mind always that self-confidence is the most important thing in performing any duty. So, you all should carry out your respective duty with confidence. If so, you will be successful,” she said.

Noting that a war following the Coronavirus pandemic is now badly affecting the world economy, she said, “We don’t want any conflict or war. We want peace to be established throughout the world.”

The premier said Bangladesh currently has 6,825 members in UN peacekeeping missions. They account for 9.2 per cent of a total of 75,516 peacekeepers from 121 countries deployed in establishing world peace.

At present, 519 women peacekeepers from Bangladesh are engaged in world peacekeeping operations, she said, adding that the participation of women peacekeepers from Bangladesh armed forces and police is on a gradual rise.

She said Bangladeshi peacekeepers have successfully completed 55 missions in different countries in the world. Now Bangladeshi peacekeepers are engaged in 13 missions around the world.

Hasina said Bangladeshi peacekeepers have earned the unconditional love, trust and confidence of the local people through restoration of peace in the conflict-ridden countries by working together with other allied peacekeepers risking their lives.

“Our Bangladeshi peacekeepers gain acclamation from the locals (in foreign countries) as the special feature of our peacekeepers is that they perform not only their duty, but also different social responsibilities simultaneously. This is why you can earn trust and confidence from all starting from children and women there,” she said.

At present Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Rabab Fatima is the chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, she added.

Recalling the Bangladeshi peacekeepers who made the supreme sacrifice for the noble causes of world peace, she said a total of 161 Bangladeshis lost lives and 247 others were injured in the UN peacekeeping missions.

Mentioning that two Bangladeshi peacekeepers received martyrdom in the last one year (till April last), Hasina prayed for the salvation of departed souls and expressed profound sympathy to the bereaved family members.

In the function, the sacrifices of the two fallen peacekeepers and 14 injured peacekeepers were recognised by conferring awards. A bravery award was also given to a peacekeeper.

On behalf of the PM, Law Minister Anisul Huq handed over the awards to them or their family members.

The premier said Bangladesh has always been for peace. In 1999, the United Nations adopted a resolution entitled “Culture of Peace” placed by Bangladesh. In 1999, Peacekeeping Operation Training Centre was established in Bangladesh.

The centre later was accorded the status of a full-fledged institute with the title of ‘ Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operation Training-BIPSOT in 2002, which is now considered as one of the best training centres for peacekeepers in the world, she said.

Bangladesh became a member of the ‘Blue Helmet’ family in the establishment of world peace in 1988. Today, Bangladesh is celebrating 34 years of the glory (membership) as the highest peacekeeper sending country in the world, said Hasina.

“Every peacekeeper from Bangladesh has been carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to them in the UN peacekeeping missions with efficiency and success,” she said, adding that today, Bangladesh’s position as an active participant in peacekeeping is well acclaimed all over the world.

The effective participation in UN missions has consolidated Bangladesh’s position in world peace. “At the same time, it has been playing an important role in the development of our diplomatic relations with militarily powerful countries,” she said.

In addition, Bangladesh peacekeepers are earning huge foreign currencies for the country, which is playing an important role in the national economy, said the PM.

“We hope that you will establish Bangladesh as a strong peace-building country in the world and uphold the flag of Bangladesh in the world,” she said pointing at the peacekeepers.

The prime minister also exchanged views with Bangladeshi peacekeepers deployed in UN peacekeeping missions in different countries, including South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo through teleconferences.

Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq, Chief of Army Staff General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, Military Adviser to UN Peace Operations Department General Birame Diop and UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis spoke on the occasion.