140 Indians among UN peacekeepers deployed in Haiti

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United Nations, Oct 23 (UNI) A 140-member Formed Police Unit (FPU) from India has been deployed in the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti, known by the French-language acronym MINUSTAH, to help with international efforts to ensure a safe environment in the Caribbean country.

The Indian blue helmets, as the UN peacekeepers are known, would be based in Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital.

The first elements of the Indian contingent arrived in Haiti early this month to prepare for the arrival of the bulk of the troops. On October 13, a group of 64 Indian peacekeepers joined MINUSTAH. A second group, comprising 63, arrived on October 17.

The deputy commander of the Indian contingent said the country was proud to participate in the Haiti operation. ''Our government has responded positively to a request the UN to send peacekeepers to Haiti. It is an honour for us to help that country under the flag of the organisation,'' the commander said, according to a UN statement issued yesterday.

These peacekeepers are all police officers specialising in monitoring and managing crowds, a critical task in Haiti.

Through its specialised training and equipment, the unit would be involved in managing public disturbances, establishing checkpoints, tracking criminals and other anti-crime operations. FPUs also carry out patrols, undertake special anti-kidnapping operations and provide protection to visiting dignitaries in the country.

In addition, MINUSTAH's FPUs help build the capacity of Haitian National Police officers.

The arrival of the Indian blue-helmets coincides with the renewal of MINUSTAH's mandate.

Last week, the Security Council extended MINUSTAH through mid-October 2009, recognising the impact that the civil disturbances in April and the current devastating hurricane season have had on the country's stability and security.

The total number of personnel serving in MINUSTAH's formed police units has reached 1,137, hailing from seven countries.

The contribution of India, the third largest overall contributor of troops and police to UN peacekeeping operations, would help MINUSTAH consolidate the gains it has made in helping to make the country more secure for those who need it most: the Haitian people.

Nearly 60,000 Indian personnel have served in 35 UN peacekeeping operations, according to the Permanent Mission of India to the UN.

More than 100 of those peacekeepers have been killed in the line of duty.

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