Sacrifice of fallen ‘blue helmet’ to be honoured with UN’s highest peacekeeping award

MONUSCO Private Chancy Chitete of Malawi sustained fatal injuries saving a fellow UN peacekeeper who survived. (November 2018)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


In recognition of his “brave and selfless” action under fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  ̶  saving the life of a fellow ‘blue helmet’ and helping his colleagues repel an armed group  ̶  the late Malawian soldier Chancy Chitete, will be honoured with the UN’s highest peacekeeping award this coming Friday, by the UN Secretary-General.

Private Chitete was killed in November 2018, during an operation in the eastern part of the country 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), 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 remarkable actions of Private Chitete helped protect many lives, both civilian and military” said UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix. “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.

It is hoped that members of Private Chitete’s family will receive the medal on his behalf during the Peacekeepers’ Day commemorations at UN Headquarters in New York, on Friday.

In this short audio interview with Cristina Silveiro from UN News, Brigadier General El Hadji Babacar Faye, Chief of Staff at the UN Office of Military Affairs,  speaks about Private Chitete’s bravery, and why he merits the Diagne Award.

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