news Friday, May 29, 2015 - 05:30
Annie Abraham never wanted a “woman’s job”, but her work eventually took her to a war-torn country, and it was her gender that landed her there. When she left in 2010, she was happy that she “played a role in turning tears into smiles”. Were it not for a March 2010 CNN report, little would be known about Indian women contributing to the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. It was Abraham who headed the Indian Formed Police Unit (FPU) in Liberia. FPUs specialise in public order management with around 125 men and women from the contributing country in a unit. Abraham’s work in Liberia is being continued by other UN Peacekeepers who are being remembered and celebrated today May 29, International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, for their courage and efforts in conflict zones. CNN reported:  "The Indians pioneered a new way of peacekeeping. But sometimes, it was heartbreaking. 'We'd hear a woman say: "I have been raped. My daughter has been raped,"' Abraham said. All they could do was sympathize and provide the kind of comfort a male counterpart could not."     In 2007, 103 Blue Helmets – as the UN Peacekeepers are called – marched off a plane and onto Liberian soil. The women officers were immediately a source of great curiosity and attention, the BBC reported. India has served in 43 UN Peacekeeping missions since the first one in Korea in 1950. Over the years, India has sent a total of 1,60,000 troops, the highest from any country, on various missions in Indo-China (Vietnam,Laos,Cambodia), the Middle East, Congo, Cambodia, Mozambique, Somalia, Rwanda, Angola, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia-Eritrea. As many as 157 have been killed so far. Cuurently Indian Armed forces are involved in seven out of 14 UN peacekeeping missions. They are, Lebanon, Congo, Sudan, Golan Heights, Ivory Coast, Liberia.