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Five Rwandan peacekeepers will today be honoured with the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal for their role in peacekeeping.

The recipients are among 106 peacekeepers who were killed in the line of duty last year. The fallen peacekeepers will be post-humously recognised.

The Rwandan recipients of the medal are Lt. Fidel Bukingo, Sgt. Joseph Nsengiyumva, Sgt. Christian Ruhara, and Pte. Callixte Rwagasore, who served in the UN Mission in Darfur (Unamid), as well as Staff Sergeant Jean Pierre Ntwari, who served in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The medals will be received by Rwanda’s representatives at the UN on behalf of the families of the fallen servicemen.

More than 116,000 military, police and civilian personnel from more than 120 countries serve in 16 peacekeeping operations under the UN, where they help stabilise communities, protect civilians, promote the rule of law and advance human rights at their great personal risk.

Rwanda currently maintains more than 4,000 soldiers and nearly 600 police officers and personnel in various peacekeeping missions and is presently ranked the 6th biggest troop contributor in peacekeeping operations in the world.

The missions include the International Support Mission in Central Africa Republic (Misca), Unamid, UNMISS, UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma) and the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (Unisfa).

Rwandan peacekeepers are also serving in Haiti, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Ivory Coast, where their work has often been described as “exemplary.”

“They put their lives in danger. Rwandans and the communities they protect are grateful,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita, the Rwanda Defence Forces spokesperson.

The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal-named after the second UN Secretary-General who died in a plane crash in 1961-is a posthumous award given by the UN to military personnel, police, or civilians who lose their lives while serving in a UN peacekeeping operation.

‘Never Again’ spirit inspires:

It is nearly 10 years since Rwanda started sending troops to peacekeeping missions, and analysts of the troops’ work say having experienced the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the Rwandan peacekeepers are inspired to ensure a world free of bloodshed.

Twenty years after the current Rwandan military was left to stop the Genocide when the overly stretched and ineffective UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda (Unamir) had failed to protect civilians, Rwandan troops have been acting on a “never again” spirit.

The Constitution mandates the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) to participate in international peacekeeping missions, humanitarian assistance, and training.

André Roux, of the Institute for Security Studies, an organisation that seeks to enhance human security on the African continent, said RDF is in “the top 20 per cent in Africa in terms of troop quality”.

He described Rwandan troops as “young, fit and holding good weapons skills and good command and control.”

Rwanda’s peacekeeping missions have also been described as gender-sensitive in their approach because Rwandan female officers that are deployed have helped to fight gender-based violence and other violations of rights for vulnerable groups like women and children in conflict areas.

The Director of Peace Support Operations in Rwanda National Police, Toussaint Muzezayo, told The New Times that the Force is privileged to have officers who help fight gender-based crimes during peacekeeping missions.

The New Times