International

Indian peacekeepers garner praise for helping local communities

Going beyond their call of duty, Indian peacekeepers serving with the UN missions in Lebanon and South Sudan have earned appreciation for undertaking activities to benefit local communities, including raising awareness about breast cancer and teaching farmers methods of goat rearing.

Indian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) organised a training session with the aim of raising awareness about preventing breast cancer among the women of Shaba in south-eastern Lebanon earlier this week, a report from the mission said.

The training session, conducted in coordination with local authorities and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), offered an opportunity for the local women to discuss issues about breast cancer with UNIFIL’s female peacekeepers with expertise on the subject.

UNIFIL doctors focused the session, attended by 35 women, on the prevention and early detection of breast cancer.

Since there are no female doctor posted with the Indian Battalion, resources from other UNIFIL battalions operating in the Mission’s eastern sector were pooled in to conduct the training, the report said.

Indian peacekeepers deployed with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) spoke to farmers in the Upper Nile area about new methods to generate income through goat rearing, with the aim of helping the local communities improve their methods of livelihood.

“I have lost many goats, particularly small kids, in the recent past. After undergoing this training workshop, I understand what mistakes I’ve been making,” James Nyawanya, one of the participants in an interactive teaching session with Indian peacekeepers, was quoted as saying in a news report by the mission.

“The incidences of increased disease and death among goats in surrounding areas have led us to organise this workshop for livestock farmers, to enable them to provide special care for newly born kids,” said veterinary officer Lieutenant Colonel Sengar.

The peacekeepers also provided a reference handbook on ‘Goat farming and Management’, specifically tailored to the needs of local communities in South Sudan.

State governor James Tor Munybuony appreciated the mission’s efforts, encouraging all the participants to imbibe new aspects of goat farming and use the knowledge to improve their livestock management and create new income-generating opportunities.

Participants were trained on nutritional and health management, housing, effective first aid, vaccination and deworming, breed improvement and value addition of milk.

In South Sudan’s Jonglei region, Indian peacekeepers are providing critical veterinary know-how that is helping the local community save cows and livelihoods.

An UNMISS news article said that the UN Indian veterinary team works with the locals six days a week throughout the year. Last year, they treated more than 22,000 animals.

Daniel Deng, an animal health officer in Bor town, said the veterinary know-how of the Indian peacekeepers was leading to immense benefits to the local community.

“The biggest help they give us is the training of animal health workers, who learn how to identify and treat diseases,” Deng said.

“Last year they did a lot of tick control and treatment which helped control east coast fever, which normally kills a lot of livestock every year. This time, the veterinary team saved most of our dear animals,” Deng said.

Colonel S E Thomas from the Indian peacekeeping contingent was cited in the article as saying that preventive measures and timely treatment have reduced deaths to just a handful, expressing hope and belief that their work can keep previously mass-killing diseases at bay.

Separately, as part of activities marking the month of the woman, the Indian battalion deployed with the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO) distributed household solar lamps to women in Mashango, a remote village in North Kivu where there is no electricity.

India is among the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions deployed in about nine peacekeeping missions. The highest number of personnel is deployed with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

Source: thehindu.com

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