A valiant Senegalese soldier named Captain Mbaye Diagne who served as part of the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, risking and losing his life to save the lives of Rwandans during the 1994 genocide, has been honored by the United Nations (UN).
Captain Mbaye Diagne had served as a military observer at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) and as the country’genocide began and they were plunged into bloody chaos, the whole world seemed to stand aside and watch as millions lost their lives.
Captain Mbaye Diagne who had been a devout Muslim however put his life on the line directly to protect some of the people in danger.
He was stationed at the Hotel des Mille Collines which had housed hundreds of rescued citizens and from there, Captain Mbaye Diagne carried out several unsanctioned rescue missions.
He took it upon himself to perform the dangerous duty of hiding Tutsis and moderate Hutus who were being hunted. Concealing them in his truck, he would transport them to safety.
He was driving back to the Mission headquarters in May 1994, with just 12 days left to the completion of his mission when a mortar fell near his vehicle, which was hit by shrapnel and Captain Diagne died instantly. The UN Security Council created the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage in May 2014, to acknowledge his courageous actions during the genocide.
Yesterday, the inaugural medal was presented to his family and speaking at the medal ceremony, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted;
“One man, Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal, truly set himself apart. He showed incredible heroism while carrying out the noblest goals of the United Nations – preserving peace and protecting the most vulnerable”.
“He was exceptionally courageous. While the world failed to act to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans, Captain Diagne was fearless in saving as many lives as he could. He put his own life at risk to rescue hundreds of men, women and children. He bravely and secretly brought them to safety”.