Peace-keeping missions: UN official for bigger role for India

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New Delhi, Apr 6: Hailing India's contribution to UN peace keeping missions, a top official of the world body today (Apr 6) sought a "larger role" for the country, commensurate with its growing stature, to bring peace and security in various conflict various zones.

"We are tremendously grateful to India for its contribution towards the UN peace-keeping missions. Now we want to further strengthen the partnership between India and the UN to meet the growing challenges around the world," said Anthony Banbury, Assistant Secretary General for Field Support in UN.

Banbury, who met Army Chief General V K Singh, said the UN wants India -- a major troop contributor to global peacekeeping missions -- to play a bigger role in devising strategies and policies for the world body in meeting growing challenges in various conflict zones.

"We want a bigger role for India in finalising strategies and policies. We see for India a role in peace keeping operations commensurate with its ever growing role in the world," the UN official, who will also hold talks with senior officials in Ministry of External Affairs and Defence, told reporters here.

Expressing deep concern over growing incidents of sexual violence in conflict zones, he said the world body has a "zero tolerance" to such crimes.

Admitting that there are cases of sexual violence by UN peacekeepers in certain areas, he said such kind of behaviour "not only hurts the victims but it also affects the image of the UN and undermines its ability to help the affected people in conflict zones."

Margot Wallstrom, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said the world body will introduce new resources for pre-deployment and in-country training of UN peacekeepers so as to make them sensitive towards women.

"We are making these efforts for the first time in 60 years. Sexual violence in conflict zones is a major issue and we must prevent it. Ending immunity is the first thing we are taking. Strict rules have to be enforced," she said.

Asked about incidents of sexual violence by UN peacekeepers, she said some of such reports are not based on facts.

"Suppose our peacekeepers in jungle of Congo saw half naked women screaming in their native language. What do they do. If the troops bring them inside the vehicle, they will be accused. If the troops do not help them, then there will be criticism," she said.

Reaffirming that ending impunity is essential to stop sexual violence in conflict zones, she also sought cooperation of all troop contributing countries so that UN peacekeepers do not involve in such crimes. 

PTI 

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