February 5, 2014
As of the beginning of this month, with the additional presence of 887 personnel deployed to South Sudan, Nepal has become the seventh largest troop-contributing nation for UN peacekeeping missions – 100,142 to date and still counting.
The Nepal Army’s reputation for outstanding service in UN Peace Support Operations goes back 56 years, beginning in 1958, when Nepali military observers were deployed to Lebanon. Since then, Nepal Army personnel have served in 40 UN missions, during which 59 Nepali peacekeepers have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
Currently, over 3,700 Nepal Army peacekeepers are serving in 13 different UN missions, in 12 countries: Sudan, South Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, DR Congo, Liberia, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Israel, Morocco, Syria and Mali. The Nepal Army also has four officers in the UN HQ and liaison officers at Tampa Bay, Florida.
Recent deployment of Nepalis to South Sudan
The recent increase in Nepali peacekeepers deployed to South Sudan follows an eruption of internal violence in mid-December 2013. Basically, two tribal factions – President Kiir and the Dinka tribe versus the former vice-president Riek Machar and the Nuer tribe – who, previously united in the multi-decade war against the North, are now fighting each other.
But it’s far more complicated than that. For an in-depth analysis, see Mahmood Mamdani’s essay for Al Jazeera:
As for Darfur, peacekeepers in UNAMID (African Union/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur), find themselves in a deteriorating situation. According to Dane Smith, former U.S. special adviser for Darfur, “It’s kind of open season on UNAMID.”
UNAMID has a mandate to use force to "protect its personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its own personnel and humanitarian workers." But it is squeezed in by both rebel fighters and the government, which has armed Arab militias, according to the U.N. resolutions setting out UNAMID's mission. Around 50 UNAMID peacekeepers have been killed to date. And, (again, according to Dane Smith), Sudanese authorities make no effort to arrest culprits.
In the meantime, Nepal Army’s continuing contribution to foreign arenas of armed strife is widely recognized, admired and appreciated by the international community – something of which every citizen in Nepal can be proud.
As Brigadier General Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, spokesman of Nepal Army, recently pointed out: “NA peacekeepers have good reputation and recognition in upholding international peace and security and have been performing well as Force Commanders in various peacekeeping missions.”
The general’s understatement is as modest as it is classy.