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UNMISS honors fallen Indian peacekeepers

Published: 04-10-13

Reprinted from the UNMISS website:

10 April 2013 - The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for South Sudan, Hilde F. Johnson, paid tribute today to the five members of the UNMISS Indian Battalion who died in an ambush in Jonglei state on Tuesday. 

Speaking at a memorial ceremony held in the UNMISS compound adjacent to Juba International Airport, Ms. Johnson praised the courage and professionalism of the Indian peacekeepers who “fought until their last breath” to protect colleagues in the line of duty. 

Heavily armed assailants attacked an UNMISS convoy traveling on the road between the Jonglei state capital of Bor and Gumuruk on the morning of 9 April. A total of 12 people died in the ambush, including two national staff members of UNMISS and five contract employees of a well drilling company.   

Five Indian peacekeepers and four civilians were also injured in the ambush, and six were evacuated to the Ugandan city of Entebbe by air on Tuesday afternoon for medical treatment.   

The SRSG also underscored the peacekeeping mission’s determination to continue its efforts to improve security conditions in South Sudan and protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.   

“A direct attack on the UN is not and will not be tolerated,” said the SRSG, who laid wreaths on the coffins of the slain Indian troops. “To anyone who wants to threaten us, attack us or put obstacles in our way, our message remains loud and clear: we will not be intimidated, we will not be deterred.”   

South Sudan’s deputy minister for international cooperation Elias Nyamlell Wakoson condemned what he called the “callous, savage and senseless ambush” and thanked UNMISS for its work in promoting peace and security in the country. 

“I reiterate the commitment of the Government of South Sudan to the strong partnership between UNMISS and South Sudan,” said the deputy minister. “(We) promise to give UNMISS maximum protection as it does its peacekeeping job.”   

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on South Sudanese authorities to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 9 April ambush, and Mr. Wakoson said his government has “seriously taken note” of Mr. Ban’s statement.   

India’s ambassador to South Sudan Parmod Bajaj joined the SRSG and the deputy minister in expressing his deepest condolences to the families of the fallen Indian troops and prayed for the speedy recovery of the civilians and Indian soldiers who survived their wounds.   

“It has been a very sad time for all of us,” said the envoy, noting that India contributes the largest number of troops to UN peacekeeping missions worldwide. “These soldiers in UNMISS are here for a noble cause in South Sudan.”   

One of the deceased UNMISS national staff members was buried at a cemetery in the city of Bor earlier today.   

Jonglei Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk led a delegation of state government officials who were on hand for the arrival of the remains of the late UNMISS driver Yumana Deng at an airstrip near the mission’s compound in Bor.   

“UNMISS is supporting us to consolidate peace and stability in the state,” said the governor. “We always value your contributions and will work with you closely as usual.” 

Governor Manyang expressed his sympathies to UNMISS staff members and urged them to continue working for the consolidation of peace and stability in Jonglei State.