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Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 17:30 UK

Bangladesh deploys female UN peacekeepers

By Salim Mia
BBC News, Dhaka

Bangladeshi women police officers
Female officers say they are 'thrilled' to be deployed abroad

For the first time, Bangladesh is going to send female police officers to a foreign UN peacekeeping mission.

Demand for Bangladeshi police officers by the UN for its peacekeeping missions is increasing because they are renowned for their professionalism.

Bangladesh police first sent officers to the UN peacekeeping mission in in Namibia in 1989.

Presently there are 1,608 police personnel working in Congo, East Timor, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sudan.

Many operate in hostile environments - the female officers will be deployed in Haiti.

'Breakthrough'

"According to the UN mandate, our activities in quake-ravaged Haiti will be providing humanitarian activities besides community policing," said Rokfar Sultana, who will command the women's contingent.

"We will also provide primary education, primary healthcare, protection on violence against women, prevention of HIV, Aids training and so on," she said.

Bangladesh currently has 10 police units in different countries.

"But this is the first time that a women's unit is being sent to the UN peacekeeping mission. We think that it is a breakthrough for our country," said Bangladesh police chief Nur Mohammad.

Besides this female contingent, another male contingent will also be sent in Haiti. Each has 160 police officers.

Since 1989, Bangladesh has sent 6,369 officers to the UN peacekeeping mission.

"I am thrilled to bits that I am going to Haiti for peacekeeping activities in the UN mission," said Ms Sultana.

"This step of the government and Bangladesh police in upholding the women's development is commendable and timely," she said.



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