Africa

Russian peacekeeper awarded UN medal

The intelligence officer was killed in an attack on a UN helicopter in DR Congo last year

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Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has honored UN peacekeeping personnel who had lost their lives in the line of duty, including Russia’s Lieutenant Colonel Alexey Mizyura, who was part of a reconnaissance team killed in a helicopter crash in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year, according to RT News.

The ceremony at the UN General Assembly Hall in New York on Thursday marked the upcoming 75th anniversary of UN Peacekeepers Day on May 29. The UN chief laid a wreath to honor over 4,200 peacekeepers who had lost their lives under the UN flag since 1948, and awarded posthumous medals to the 103 deceased last year.

Lt. Col. Mizyura was a senior intelligence officer with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). On March 29, 2022 he flew a surveillance and reconnaissance mission with a team of UN military observers when their helicopter came under fire near the town of Rutshuru. The area had seen fighting between the Congolese military and militants affiliated with the March 23 Movement (M23), with the two sides blaming each other for shooting down the aircraft. The entire UN team was killed in the crash, including six Pakistani and one Serbian peacekeeper.

“Mizyura remained true to his duty to the very end, striving to bring peace and stability to the Congolese land. High professionalism, as well as his inherent courage, helped him to successfully carry out the most important missions,” the Russian mission to the UN said. Moscow’s permanent representative, Vassily Nebenzia, accepted the medal on behalf of Mizyura, and will pass it on to the officer’s surviving family.

The posthumous award is named after Dag Hammarskjold, a former UN secretary-general who was killed in a plane crash en route to ceasefire talks during the Congo Crisis in 1961. The exact circumstances of that disaster are still unknown.

The M23 militants were thought to have been defeated back in 2013 with the help of UN peacekeepers, but rose again in recent years. Earlier this month, the 16-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed to send troops to join the East African regional military force that has been present in several areas of the Congo previously controlled by the M23 militia since December 2022.

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