Saving lives:symbol of hope
The international community, through the United Nations, has commended countries which contribute troops to peacekeeping missions as a remarkable expression of solidarity on peace and security.
Speaking at the Indonesia Peace and Security Centre in Sentul, which trains soldiers before deployment as peacekeepers, Mr Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday described UN peacekeeping as a “symbol of hope” for communities across the world affected by conflicts.
East Africa has played what was referred to as a sterling role in bringing peace to conflict-stricken parts of the world with peacekeepers from Rwanda serving in the Darfur region of the Sudan and in Haiti; Kenya, Uganda and Burundi have soldiers in Somalia under the UN-backed African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Also in Somalia are troops from Djibouti and Ethiopia.
Other countries that have contributed troops are Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana under the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) mandate. Also receiving accolades was Indonesia, which has troops in Darfur (Sudan), Liberia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In Rwanda’s case, a Certificate of Commendation was awarded to Lieutenant Theoneste Nkurunziza of the African Union – UN hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for his exemplary service and courage under fire.
A patrol he was leading on October 10, 2011 was ambushed in Zanzam in Darfur, but he managed to hold his ground, despite losing three of his men, until reinforcements arrived. The commendation was signed by Rwanda’s Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyavumba, Force Commander of UNAMID.
Besides, the Rwandan peacekeepers are involved in monthly community projects in both Darfur and Haiti, in which they take part in activities that support the local communities. Recently, they handed over a school they had constructed to a local community in Darfur.
Rwanda maintains over 3,200 officers and men in Darfur, Sudan, as well as 463 police peacekeepers under the UN missions in Haiti, Sudan, South Sudan, Liberia and Ivory Coast.
In a lecture entitled UN Peacekeeping: Challenges and Opportunities for Indonesia, the Region and Beyond, Mr Ban said, “When conflicts rage, children are out of school for years – until our peacekeepers come and make it safe to go back to class.
“They help build bridges – physical bridges to cross rivers, and bridges of trust across communities. They reclaim land poisoned with mines… peacekeepers provide free medical care to local people.”
He also spoke forcefully about a “tiny minority” of peacekeepers who harm the people they are sent to protect, thus disgracing their countries and the UN, and undermining the work of tens of thousands of dedicated colleagues across the world.
Mr Ban is currently on a four-nation tour that will also take him to Malaysia, Singapore and the Republic of Korea.
Earlier, he hailed the Indonesia’s regular contribution of troops to United Nations.
“For decades, Indonesia has written a proud history of service,” he told a joint news conference with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the city of Bogor, noting that some 2,000 Indonesian troops are currently serving in six of the most difficult UN missions in Lebanon, Haiti and in Africa.
He said he had asked Mr. Yudhoyono to also consider contributing air assets, such as helicopters, to the peacekeeping missions, which are in great need of them.
“Mr. President, you are the only leader of any nation in the world who has served as a UN blue helmet. You understand the challenges we face from experience. My deepest admiration and respect for your strong commitment and contribution to the peace and security of the world,” said the Secretary-General.
Indonesia has also paid a high price for its commitment to the cause of global peace, Mr. Ban said, noting that 31 Indonesian soldiers had lost their lives while serving in UN missions.
“I mourn with their loved ones and Indonesia. Their deaths were a loss to the world,” he said.