Neelam Deo remembers tumultuous times in West Africa.
Question: Have you found yourself in dangerous postings?
Neelam Deo: I served in West Africa from ‘99, June of ‘99 to 2002, 3 years. During that period, [IB] where I was resident in [Abijou], in fact, had its first coup d’etat which was followed by succession of coup attempts, unsuccessful mostly. There were some very controversial and quite violent elections. I was also concurrently accredited to Sierra Leone where the UN peacekeeping force, a large force of 15,000 armed men was led by India. We [charted] a contingent of 6,000 soldiers. I was concurrently accredited to Guinea which has been in an uneasy equilibrium, but very unstable equilibrium if you like. I was, like, accredited to Niger which is another government that has not been able to make any economic progress for its people.
So, yes, those are the kind of experiences I have had. But at the same time, of course, those are experiences from which you learn a great deal. You get a more mature perspective on international relations and, of course, also a different perspective on how you look at life itself.
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