United Nations: Indian peacekeepers, who supported the Haitian Police for over a decade and are departing from Haiti as the UN mission closes in October, have won laurels for their commendable service and for going beyond the call of duty to serve the people in the Caribbean country.
The Indian Formed Police Unit (FPU), deployed with the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), consisted 140 personnel from Assam Rifles, India's 184-year-old paramilitary force.
Of the total 140 Indian peacekeepers, 126 officers left Haiti on July 21, following the closing of operations of the last Indian contingent in the Caribbean country.
The remaining 14 Indian officers will depart on August 3, ending 11 years of continuous presence of Indian police on the Haitian territory in support of the Haitian National Police (HNP), since the arrival of their first contingent as part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in 2008.
"The Indian peacekeepers deployed in Haiti have performed their duties very well. We have helped and provided training to the Haitian Police through joint exercises. Haitian personnel, including the Police Commissioner have appreciated our work," Indian FPU Commander Colonel Chatter Singh told PTI.
Between 2008 and 2019, a total of 3,260 Indian policemen served alongside Haitian police in interventions such as law enforcement, joint patrols, checkpoints and the escort of humanitarian aid convoys in areas affected by the natural disasters.
India is the 4th largest contributor of military personnel and police to United Nations peacekeeping operations, with 6,322 officers deployed in various UN missions around the world as of June 30 this year.
In total, India has provided more than 200,000 military personnel to UN peacekeeping operations over the past 70 years.
"The lessons learnt from our deployment with the UN mission in Haiti will help us in future assignments as well" Singh said.
The departure of the 140 police officers from the Indian FPU, who arrived in August 2018 and were deployed in Port-au-Prince, is part of the gradual withdrawal of the last four formed police units from MINUJUSTH before October 15, 2019, the date set by the UN Security Council for the planned closure of the mission.
This will put an end to 15 years of United Nations peacekeeping operations in Haiti.
The Rwandan, Jordanian and Senegalese contingents will be the last formed police units to leave the territory.
Starting from October 16, with a new configuration without the presence of peacekeepers on the ground, the United Nations will continue to support the implementation of the HNP Strategic Development Plan 2017-2021 through the technical and advisory support to the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).
The 140 Indian peacekeepers were awarded the United Nations medal in recognition of their work during a closing ceremony earlier this month in presence of the representatives of the Haitian National Police and those of the police component of MINUJUSTH.
Singh said the Indian contingent carried out numerous operations related to the MINUJUSTH mandate, including joint patrols of Indian police with those of the HNP and individual police officers, static security missions, visibility patrols, joint operations, police escorts, rapid reaction forces.
The Indian peacekeepers went above and beyond their call of duty and their humanitarian work for the Haitian people and were widely appreciated by the local authorities, Singh said.
The Indian contingent provided books and other essential items to institutions such as the Enfant-Jesus of Prague orphanage in Port-au-Prince and donated about 70 units of blood on the occasion of Indian national holidays such as the Independence Day and the Republic Day.
"MINUJUSTH recognizes Indi's contribution to Haiti and sincerely thanks it. The Indian police have made successful efforts to fulfil this peace mission," said the Commander of the Police Component of the Mission, Commissioner Serge Therriault, present at the closing ceremony.
Singh also said the Indian contingent did not suffer any casualties during the deployment.
"Our hope for the Haitian people is that they carry forward their culture and work hard for the prosperity and development of the country so that the Haitian flag flies high," Singh said.
"In recognition of the exemplary service and valuable contribution he has offered to MINUJUSTH, Colonel Singh deserves to be congratulated," said a congratulatory certificate and appreciation letter presented to Singh by Therriault.
He said he was proud that there were no disciplinary case against any Indian peacekeeper and "we completed our mission successfully, with dignity and respect".
So far, 168 Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty in various UN missions.
Singh underscored that nations should remember the sacrifices made by peacekeepers through memorials.
They have given their life, made the supreme sacrifice. For a nation's better tomorrow, they have given their today," he said.