UNOCI’s Bangladeshi peacekeepers honoured with United Nations Medal

Some 1,630 Bangladeshi soldiers serving with the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), were decorated with the United Nations Medal on Tursday, 21 November 2013 in Man, 570 kilometres from Abidjan in the west of Côte d’Ivoire, by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire, Mrs Aïchatou Mindaoudou, in the presence of the UN Force Commander, General Mohammad Iqbal Asi.

The Special Representative thanked the Bangladesh Contingent for its commitment and sense of sacrifice. Mrs Mindaoudou told recipients that they were being given the medal by the United Nations as a mark of its gratitude for their devotion to peace. She expressed her satisfaction with the work they were doing and their remarkable contribution to the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI). Mrs Mindaoudou praised the memory of Bangladeshi soldiers who had lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping missions throughout the world, including in Côte d’Ivoire. She then thanked the Bangladeshi peacekeepers « for the professionalism with which they carried out their work in a difficult situation with many challenges during the past ten months.

Stressing the importance of their efforts to stabilise the security situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the head of UNOCI highlighted « the implementation of their mandate to maintain security not only on the Ivorian borders but also in strategic areas in the country ».

She also thanked them for their civil-military actions to help Ivorians. « In addition to your regular tasks, you have carried out outreach activities such medical consultations to care for the injured and the sick. You have served humanity ; thank you for the potable water that you distribute to people in your area; thank you for the dangerous task that you undertook regarding the destruction and stockage of rockets and unexploded ordnances, so that people can go about their normal business without fear and be able to rebuild their societies, » added the Head of UNOCI.

«Your contributions remain engraved in the new Côte d’Ivoire which is consolidating peace and building on its achievements,» said the Special Representative, while asking the officers and soldiers to continue their mission in accordance with UNOCI’s mandate.

The Special Representative thanked the local authorities and the people of Man for their presence at the medal parade ceremony, which she said undoubtedly encourages the peacekeepers. « I would also like to thank and express my gratitude to the people of Côte d’Ivoire for the support they have always given to UNOCI, » said Mrs Mindaoudou.

The Commander of Sector West, Brigadier-General Anisuzzaman Bhuia, recalled that since its independence, Bangladesh had always supported the efforts of the United Nations by providing it with huge contingents. Almost 2,086 Bangladeshi soldiers and police officers have served with UNOCI since 2004 and they have lived in perfect harmony with the local population, he added. He also said that 15 Bangladeshi soldiers had lost their lives while serving with the United Nations in Côte d’Ivoire, reaffirming the pride and sacrifice of these soldiers to work for peace throughout the world.

Bangladesh has participated in 43 United Nations peacekeeping missions throughout the world. It is the second highest troop contributing country with 8,000 peacekeepers. The medal parade ceremony was marked by a military parade and a review of the troops. The prefectoral authorities, led by the Prefect of the Region, Mr. Soro Jérôme, took part in the ceremony.

The Special Representative responded to questions from journalists on the significance of the ceremony. « It is not a national ceremony because all the soldiers are not decorated on the same day, at the same time but according to the amount of time they have been serving with their respective contingents, » she explained.

Mrs Mindaoudou recalled UNOCI mandate according to Resolution 2112. « The mandate is based on the protection of civilians. Significant importance was also given to the accompaniment of Côte d’Ivoire precisely with regard to security sector reform, DDR, political dialogue and reconciliation ». With regard to the security situation in the country, the Special Representative said it had improved. «Everyone can go about their normal business. However for a country which is coming out of a long crisis, it is obvious that everything is not yet as it should be. There is still work to be done but if we taken the post-electoral crisis period as the base, the situation has improved a lot, » she added.

The Special Representative held a working session with UNOCI civilian and military personnel based in Man as well as personnel from UN agencies. She welcomed the quality of the professional relationship between the UN agencies based in the west of Côte d’Ivoire and UNOCI personnel. She promised return to Man for more discussions the teams on the progress and challenges of the Mission with regard to the current transition.

The Head of UNOCI planted a coffee tree in UNOCI’s base in Man where the medal parade ceremony for the Bangladeshi Contingent took place.


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