The service of almost 250 Indian and Sri Lankan “blue berets” serving with the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was noted at a medal parade in Bor, Jonglei State capital.
Adding lustre to the parade was the presence of Lieutenant General Shailesh Tinaikar, UNMISS force commander. He honoured 135 Indian military personnel and 103 Sri Lankan aviation unit personnel.
The Indian troops are stationed in Bor, Pibor and at a temporary operating base in Akobo and engaged in activities, including civil/military co-operation. They, like anybody working in Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor administrative area, deal with the often violent reality in a volatile part of South Sudan plagued by inter-communal violence. Flooding and the resulting displacement of thousands further complicates matters.
UNMISS east sector commander Brigadier General Deepak Kumar Baniya who oversaw the medal parades said: “The price of peace is high and illustrated by India’s participation in 49 peacekeeping operations across the world costing 157 lives”.
The Sri Lankan aviation unit was commended for flying in difficult circumstances with helicopters shot down. “You are as brave and committed as one would expect pilots from your country to be,” Tinaikar told those on parade.