A UN peacekeeper who was killed in the act of saving a comrade will be recognised for bravery when he receives posthumously later this week, the United Nations' highest award for UN peacekeepers.
Chancy 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 terrorizing 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), a UN statement issued Monday said Private Chitete and his colleagues came under heavy fire. He and his team fought back, allowing other troops to tactically withdraw.
Seeing a badly-injured Tanzanian peacekeeper, Corporal Ali Khamis Omary, pinned down and exposed to enemy fire, Private Chitete dragged him to safety and administered first-aid: whilst doing so, he was shot and killed. Private 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, the UN statement said.
"The remarkable actions of Private Chitete helped protect many lives, both civilian and military" UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said Monday. "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."
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.
UN officials hope members of Private Chitete's family will receive the medal on his behalf during the Peacekeepers' Day commemorations at UN Headquarters in New York this Friday.