The United Nations, on Wednesday, decorated 240 Rwandan Police peacekeepers serving in its mission in South Sudan with the ‘UN Service Medal of Honor’ for their dedicated service and sacrifice in ensuring safety, security and peace.
The decorated hybrid force under Rwanda Formed Police Unit-One (RWAFPU-1) deployed in Malakal, Upper Nile headed by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Paul Gatambira, is one of the three Rwandan Formed Police Units (FPUs) operating under the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
UNMISS Head of Field Office (HOFO) in Malakal, Hazel Dewet, presided over the medal ceremony held in their base camp.
It was also attended by UN Police (UNPOL) Chief of Staff, ACP Barthelemy Rugwizangonga, who represented UNMISS Police Commissioner, UNMISS Sector-North Commander Brig. Gen Johnson Akou Adjei Koffi, Malakal Police commissioner Maj. Gen Chol Atem, commanders of peacekeepers from other countries, among other high-ranking UNMISS and South Sudan officials.
The medal ceremony was characterized by a parade, martial arts and cultural performance by the decorated Rwandan peacekeepers.
UNMISS Head of Field Office (HOFO) in Malakal Mrs. Hazel Dewet decorating RWAFPU-1 contingent commander, ACP Paul Gatambira
Dewet hailed the Rwandan peacekeepers for their professionalism in contributing to the peace agreement in South Sudan.
She particularly appreciated the role played by the Rwandan women under RWAFPU-3, adding “it’s an indication that peace-building is not only the work of men.”
“Your limitless efforts showed that you were prepared enough and brave people to endure any challenging situation; it erased doubts you would accomplish any assigned tasks with resolute efficiency and extreme professionalism even in the face of fragile and volatile environment,” Dewet said.
She stated that the awarded medals define Rwandan peacekeepers’ commitment in the unification and peace for the people of South Sudan, adding that the UN appreciates “Rwanda’s commitment to international peace.”
The UNPOL Chief of Staff, ACP Barthelemy Rugwizangoga conveyed his gratitude to the Government of Rwanda for its contribution to UNPOL and for bridging the gender parity gap in peacekeeping.
He thanked the decorated officers for their confidence and trust building patrols, cordon and search operations, prevention of sexual and gender-based violence as well as operational support to the mandated activities of the Individual Police Officers (IPOs), UN and humanitarian actors.
In his remarks, the RWAFPU-1 contingent Commander, ACP Paul Gatambira stated receiving the medal was an honour for the decorated peacekeepers, and thanked the UN, South Sudan government; UNMISS leadership and the people of South Sudan for their support, which facilitated them to effectively discharge their duties.
“I would like to acknowledge that it would not have been easier without support, encouragement, cooperation and guidance of the UNMISS leadership like; UNPOL/IPOs, Military components, UNDSS [United Nations Department of Safety and Security], and all civilian components without forgetting humanitarian agencies,” Gatambira said.
He further noted that they have gained more experience, exposure, diversity and resilience in handling “unpredictable and challenging circumstances,” which will be shared back in their home country and beyond.
Gatambira also thanked the decorated officers under his command for their professionalism, commitment, teamwork and hard work, and expressed gratitude to the people of Malakal for being “partners in peacekeeping activities.”
RWANFPU-1 was deployed in UNMISS, Malakal in November last year, where they were largely charged with the protection of over 32,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and communities in the vicinity and conducted varied human security activities, including communal work—Umuganda.