India to send women police officers for UNMIL
New Delhi, Sept 2: In a landmark move, India will send 125 women police officers for United Nations Peace-keeping operations in Liberia (UNMIL) in October and the UN has hailed the decision as ''unprecedented'' and ''extremely timely.'' A senior official of the External Affairs Ministry told sources that the 125 officers, who are currently undergoing the final stages of their training here, will make up a specialised unit, Formed Police Unit (FPU).
Details of what exact role the all-female FPU will play as part of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), are currently being worked out, the official said.
The UN has had increasing success with such units over the past few years as a means of bridging the gap between regular and lightly-armed police and fully-armed blue helmets.
The official said the contingent is made up of volunteers who have decided to be a part of peace-keeping operations and that they can play an effective, credible role.
The Indian unit will join other FPUs currently serving in Liberia.
India currently contributes almost 400 police officers to UN missions worldwide, one of the top 10 police-contributing countries, but only 15 of these personnel are female officers, something which the introduction of the 125 women officers would change.
A UN Official here described India's decision as an ''unprecedented'' move that sends a ''powerful message'' not only to other post-conflict countries about the importance of having women officers, but also to police contributing nations. ''This is an unprecedented move by India to deploy these female officers in policing and we applaud it and think that it is extremely timely and extremely relevant to the policing needs in the years ahead,'' the UN Official said.
The specialised units have traditionally been employed as a rapid reaction force, trained in crowd control and better armed than regular police, as well as playing a strong training role for local officers.
''This decision is extremely timely because as we look at our deployment of women in UN police components around the world, we still retain an unacceptably small number of three or four per cent, compared to up to 25 per cent of women officers in an acceptable police organisation,'' the official said.
India's decision will enhance UN access to vulnerable populations by having women in UN missions, the UN Official added.