Some 240 Rwandan Police officers serving under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were on October 25 decorated with the ‘UN Service Medal of Honour’ for their dedication and professionalism in peacekeeping duties.
The awarding ceremony for the officers under Rwanda Formed Police Unit-One (RWAFPU-1) was held at their Base Camp in Malakal of Upper Nile and presided over by United Nations Police (UNPOL) Chief-of-Staff, Commissioner Girmay Gebrekidan.
RWAFPU-1, deployed since November last year, is composed of 50 female officers, and is among the three Rwandan police contingents deployed in the world’s youngest nation.
Present was also the Governor of Central Upper Nile State, James Tor Munybuny contingent commanders of other police and military contributing countries and UNMISS officials.
Commissioner Gebrekidan saluted the decorated officers for their “dedicated service and sacrifice” for the safety, security and the well-being of the people of Malakal and South Sudan in general.
The officers are charged with protection of civilians and their property, creating conducive conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, monitoring and investigating human rights violations, and supporting the implementation of the peace process agreement, among others.
The Chief-of-Staff commended Rwanda’s ’13 years of peacekeeping’ since its first deployment in 2005 under then African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which was later renamed United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
Rwanda is ranked the second largest contributing country to UN Peace Support operations in the world after Ethiopia, as of September 30, 2018. The country maintains over 1220 police officers in five missions.
“You have served selflessly as brave and well prepared police officers; you have endured challenging situations in fragile and violent environment, and in that way you assured the people under your protection of their safety,” Gebrekidan said.
He described them as “good ambassadors for their country, families and the UN family” and thanked them for respecting and valuing the UN core values of professionalism, integrity and respect of diversity.
The Chief-of-Staff also commended Rwanda on its emphasis on gender parity even in international peacekeeping duties. The female-dominated FPU is one of the three contingents deployed in UNMISS. There are about 550 Rwandan police officers serving in South Sudan.
UNMISS Head of Field Office, Madam Hazel Dawet, also commended the decorated officers for their dedication, discipline and professionalism, especially in the protection of internally displaced persons.
“This UN medal should give you pride and always remind you of the one year you have spent away from your loved families, friends and country for a noble cause,” Madam Dawet said.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Charles Butera, the contingent commander of RWAFPU-1, thanked the United Nations and South Sudan leadership as well as UNMISS for their support and facilitating them to accomplish their mandate.
He also thanked the officers under his command for their resilience and teamwork, and expressed gratitude to the people of Malakal for being partners in peacekeeping activities in the area, adding that Rwanda remains committed to international peace