Bangladesh peacekeepers send home $1.24b in three years

DHAKA - Bangladeshi soldiers serving as UN peacekeepers have sent home nearly US$1 billion (S$1.24b) during the past three years, the country’s envoy to the UN said on Thursday.

Bangladesh is the biggest contributor to UN peacekeeping forces with more than 10,000 soldiers serving in 45 out of the global body’s 65 missions across the world.

Over the past three years, Bangladeshi peacekeepers sent home 75 billion taka (S$1.138 billion) to their families, said the country’s UN representative, Abdul Momen, according to a statement released in Dhaka.

Impoverished Bangladesh relies on remittances to help pay for its surging imports.

In 2010-11, the country’s seven-million-plus overseas workers sent home US$11.6 billion – representing over 10 percent of Bangladesh’s gross domestic product.

Lucrative peacekeeping duties are hugely popular with Bangladesh’s armed forces, giving those who take up such jobs a chance to buy homes and save for retirement.

Experts say the possibility of landing UN peacekeeping postings are one of the key reasons why mid-ranking officers in Bangladesh’s powerful armed forces have lost the appetite for staging coups in recent decades.

Bangladesh has been hit by around 20 failed and successful coups since its independence in 1971, but most occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s when local soldiers did not have access to UN peacekeeping jobs.

In 2010, the Muslim-majority nation sent its first female peacekeepers – a 110-strong battalion of policewomen – to Haiti, and the UN envoy said the country could send more women to serve in UN missions.

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