SERVICEMEN and women from the Rwanda Aviation Unit 5 (RAU 5) serving in South Sudan yesterday stood proudly as they were awarded UN medals in recognition of their service.
In a jubilant ceremony, the United Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Moustapha Soumaré, thanked the Government of Rwanda for its commitment to the UN mission and to the people of South Sudan.
“The performance of the Rwanda Aviation Unit is critical to the success of UNMISS,” Soumaré is quoted in a statement as saying.
In a country where some areas are impossible to reach by road due to poor networks, heavy rains and desperate security situation, the Deputy SRSG acknowledged the essential flight services provided by RAU.
“Contributions of RAU should set an example for others to emulate,” he said.
Soumaré paid particular tribute to the eight Rwandan female peacekeepers in a contingent of 165, highlighting the need for more UN women peacekeepers to be deployed to UNMISS.
“The role and contribution of female personnel is crucial in a place like South Sudan,” he said.
During their year of service, the unit has transported over 13,000 UN and African Union personnel, including medical evacuations, facilitated in the rotation of troops and airlifted 1,359 tonnes of cargo across the UN mission area in South Sudan.
The ceremony was attended by UN dignitaries, including UNMISS Force Commander Lt Gen Frank Kamanzi (also from Rwanda), and a Military Advisor from UN headquarters in New York, Lt Gen Carlos Loitey.
Rwanda currently deploys over 6,000 peacekeeping troops around the world, including 2,288 in South Sudan.
The unit will complete its tour of duty August 31.