The United Nations has decorated 29 Rwandan peacekeepers serving as ‘Individual Police Officers’ (IPOs) under the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), with medals of service excellence in recognition of their professional contribution towards peace and security in the world’s youngest nation.
Individual Police Officers serve as mentors and advisors, develop community policing in refugee or internally-displaced person camps; train local police; provide specialisation in different types of investigations, among others.
The medal ceremony, held on Wednesday, was presided over by the Deputy Special Representative of UN Secretary General in charge of political Affairs (D/SRSG), Moustapha Soumaré, and attended by the UNMISS Police Commissioner, Commissioner of Police (CP) Bruce Munyambo, and Major General Andrew Kagame, the Sector Commander (South) ,among other officials.
Speaking at medal parade, Soumaré, hailed the officers for their “exceptional discipline” and commitment to the mission through out their tour of duty.
Moustapha thanked the Government of Rwanda for its key role in contributing to global peacekeeping and empowering women to be part of the cause.
Female officers currently constitute about 30 percent of the total Rwandan police peacekeepers.
“Out of sheer necessity to rebuild their country, women stepped up as leaders in every realm of the nation, including politics. Now Rwanda is the only country in the world where more women serve as elected officials,” Moustapha said, in reference to the current 64 per cent representation of women in the Lower House.
He, however, expressed the need for Rwanda to deploy more female police officers to peacekeeping operations to ensure that vulnerable groups, mainly girls and women, are well protected.
While emphasising Rwanda’s commitment to bringing about peace and security across the world, Moustapha said: “Rwanda, since its independence, was confronted with bad and discriminative leadership that led to the (1994) Genocide which saw more than one million people killed.’’
‘‘Only in 2004, ten years after the Genocide, and thanks to the good and visionary leadership, Rwanda became the first to contribute a military contingent to AU Mission in Darfur. Besides that, in 2005 Rwanda was able to contribute its first Police Uniformed personnel to AU Mission in Darfur, which is a valuable commitment and sacrifice.”
Senior Supt. Willy Marcel Higiro, who spoke on behalf of the decorated officers, thanked the UN for the trust in Rwandan security organs, adding that Rwanda National Police, in particular, remains committed to professional peacekeeping and international peace building.