The United Nation has honoured an army lieutenant colonel who died while trying to save a fellow peacekeeper from drowning and four other Indians at a ceremony honouring those who lost their lives while serving the world body last year.
Speaking at the memorial service on Tuesday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “That so many of our colleagues choose to serve where risk prevails is testament to their unstinting commitment to helping the world’s most vulnerable people, who rely on us for peace, shelter, food, vaccinations and so much more.”
The annual ceremony was held online because the UN headquarters is under a COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, Atul Khare, said: “Our friends and colleagues paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of humanity.”
He said that their legacies “will live on as we carry forward the noble cause of the UN”.
A total of 77 people, civilians and military personnel, who died last year while serving the UN, were honoured.
Among them, Lt Col Gaurav Solanki, died in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) while trying to rescue a colleague from drowing in Lake Kivu.
He was a peacekeeper with the UN Stabilisation in the DRC, which is known by its French initials as MONUSCO.
The others honoured were Johnsion Beck with UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria; Havildar Ramesh Singh with UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL); Major Ravi Inder Singh Sandhu and Havildar Lal Manotra Tarsem with UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
They had earlier received the UN’s Dag Hammarskjold medal.
Historically India is the biggest troop contributor to the UN peacekeeping operations.
India’s Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti said in May during the International Peacekeepers Day observance, “India’s long standing UN peacekeeping contribution has not come without cost. India has lost more peacekeepers than any other member state of the UN.”