NEW YORK, 24 May (Department of Peace Operations) — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will award the “Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage” to the late Captain Abdelrazakh Hamit Bahar of Chad during the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers commemorations in New York on Thursday, 26 May.
The medal was named in honour of Captain Mbaye Diagne who saved hundreds of lives while serving as a United Nations peacekeeper in Rwanda in 1994, before he was killed in action. In 2014, it was established by the United Nations Security Council as an official award to recognize uniformed and civilian peacekeepers who demonstrate exceptional courage. This year is only the second time that the Medal has been awarded.
Captain Abdelrazakh Hamit Bahar joined the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) as the Deputy Commander of the Chadian Special Forces Company in January 2021.
On 2 April 2021, Captain Abdelrazakh was deployed at the Aguelhok Super Camp in north-east Mali when it was attacked by an armed terrorist group attempting to seize the base and its outposts. Captain Abdelrazakh led a bold counterattack to defend the camp, protect the lives of his colleagues and prevent any civilian casualties. While attempting to secure the perimeter, Captain Abdelrazakh noticed armed assailants entering a house near the camp. Determined to ensure that they did not harm colleagues and the civilian population, he single-handedly led an operation to clear and secure the house. In doing so, Captain Abdelrazakh was shot and killed.
“Captain Abdelrazakh’s willingness to risk his own life to save others exemplifies the courage and dedication of the more than 1 million peacekeepers who have served on the frontlines of conflict since 1948. It also highlights the increasing danger faced by our peacekeepers as they carry out their vital work in some of the world’s most challenging environments. Captain Abdelrazakh made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of peace. We mourn his loss alongside his family, colleagues and the nation of Chad. His selfless service serves to inspire us all and we are proud to honour him,” said Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
The medal will be presented to Captain Abdelrazakh’s family at a ceremony. In addition, a Commendation Letter from the Secretary-General will be conferred upon three other United Nations peacekeepers in recognition of their courage in the line of duty: Lieutenant-Colonel Chahata Ali Mahamat of Chad, serving with MINUSMA; Sergeant Cristofer Jose Citan Ramos of Guatemala, serving with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO); and Captain Md Mahatab Uddin of Bangladesh, serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The Secretary-General will also lay a wreath to honour all fallen peacekeepers and preside over a ceremony to award the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal posthumously on Thursday to 117 uniformed and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations during 2021.
On 2 April 2021, during an attack by armed terrorists on the Aguelhok Super Camp in Mali, Lieutenant-Colonel Chahata Ali Mahamat demonstrated true bravery by taking a lead role in a counterattack against the assailants. He succeeded in disrupting the attack and led efforts to secure a landing zone to enable the immediate emergency evacuation of 16 wounded peacekeepers.
On 30 January 2022, Sergeant Cristofer Jose Citan Ramos was the point man during a patrol when it came under attack by the CODECO armed group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the assault, he was shot and wounded. Despite his injury, he showed extraordinary courage by continuing to return fire to deter the combatants and protect his colleagues.
In November 2021, Captain Md Mahatab Uddin went above and beyond the call of duty by courageously negotiating with armed groups in South Sudan to prevent attacks on civilians and UN personnel in Tonj. In the midst of ongoing clashes, he also provided protection and shelter to 1,300 civilians, including women, children and the elderly, at a temporary base while working with local communities to defuse tensions and restore calm.