India and Sri Lanka share close ties in defense and security. The camaraderie and close cooperation between the Armed Forces of India and Sri Lanka extend way beyond the boundaries of the two countries. In one such example 135 Indian and 103 Sri Lankan peacekeepers from the two countries serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) received medals of recognition from the UN Force Commander in Bor earlier this week for their contribution.
These peacekeepers were selected from among troops belonging to various nationalities. With 2,418 Indian and 686 Sri Lankan personnel, they jointly constitute more than 20% of the total strength of serving personnel in UNMISS.
Recognizing the services by peacekeepers from India and Sri Lanka, UN Force Commander Lieutenant General Shailesh Tinaikar congratulated them for ‘their contributions towards the fulfillment of the UNMISS mandate in this challenging environment’.
Indian peacekeepers are mainly stationed in Bor, Pibor, and at a temporary operating base in Akobo in South Sudan. The Indian peacekeepers serve in sensitive parts of the region and have engaged in a variety of activities, including civil-military cooperation such as veterinary camps in different parts of the country. Medal winners from Sri Lanka are from the Blue Berets aviation unit. Sri Lankan peacekeepers carry out their relentless work despite two helicopters being shot in the past.
The time-tested friendship between the two neighbors was also showcased recently when India deployed multiple assets within hours from receiving a request from Sri Lanka to douse the fire on MV XPress Pearl and address environmental concerns. India’s role as the ‘first responder’ in crises in the region was also on display during Operation Sagar Araksha I in September 2020 and the floods in Sri Lanka in May 2017. The multi-dimensional nature of bilateral engagement between the two countries cut across diverse areas of defense and security including maritime security and joint exercises.
Report by Abhishek Jha