Washington: The United Nations on Monday announced that it will honour the “brave and selfless” action of a late UN peacekeeper from Mali, who sacrificed his life while saving his fellow comrade during an operation against a local armed group last year.
In a statement, the UN said late Malawian soldier Chancy Chitete will be honoured with the UN’s highest peacekeeping award by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday 24.
Chitete, of Mali, was killed in November last year during an operation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to combat the ADF, an armed force that had been terrorising civilians and disrupting the UN’s ongoing efforts to treat, and halt, the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
Whilst fighting alongside other Malawian and Tanzanian peacekeepers attached to the UN Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), Chitete and his colleagues came under heavy fire. He and his team fought back, allowing other troops to tactically withdraw, the statement said.
Seeing a badly-injured Tanzanian peacekeeper, Corporal Ali Khamis Omary, pinned down and exposed to enemy fire, Chitete dragged him to safety and administered first-aid: whilst doing so, he was shot and killed. Chitete’s heroism and sacrifice helped the peacekeepers to achieve their objective of dislodging the ADF forces from their stronghold and saved the life of Corporal Omary, it added.
“The remarkable actions of Private Chitete helped protect many lives, both civilian and military,” UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said.
“His sacrifice underscores the dangers our peacekeepers face every day while executing their vital protection tasks in some of the world’s most challenging environments. Private Chitete remains an inspiration to us all and we are proud to honour his memory and commemorate his brave and selfless action,” Lacroix added.
The award, officially named the “Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage,” which was established in 2014 for uniformed and civilian personnel who meet the criteria, is named after the late UN peacekeeper Captain Diagne, who saved hundreds of lives in Rwanda in 1994, before being killed.
Despite the nomination of several peacekeepers for exceptional service over the past four years, the awarding of the Medal to Private Chitite will mark the first time the actions of a UN peacekeeper have been found to meet the standard set by Captain Diagne.