The United Nations has hailed the Rwandan troops serving under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as “worthy ambassadors” of their country and of the UN.
Speaking yesterday during a ceremony to decorate the Rwandan peacekeepers (Rwanbatt1) with UN service medals, at their base in Tomping, Juba, David Shearer, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), described the RDF’s role in efforts to restore peace in the world’s newest country as “valuable”.
He commended Rwandan peacekeepers for “the hard work, courage and dedication on the ground while providing security and protection to the Community in South Sudan”, according to a statement sent to Saturday Times.
“I would like to recognise the commendable efforts of everyone here on parade and honour your dedicated service here in South Sudan,’ he said. “Your efforts and professionalism are highly regarded and you make a valuable contribution to UNMISS. Wear these medals as the proud and worthy ambassadors of your country and of the United Nations that you are.”
Rwanda Defence Forces first deployed peacekeepers in South Sudan in 2014 at the height of a deadly conflict that pitted President Salva Kiir’s government troops and forces loyal to Riek Machar, the former vice president whom Kirr sacked in 2013 accusing him of plotting a coup against him.
After several rounds of fighting and botched peace deals, Machar fled to South Africa, but the conflict took a vicious circle, with deadly clashes from time to time that have driven more than two million South Sudanese refugees into neighbouring countries.
Speaking at yesterday’s colorful event in Juba, the South Sudan capital, the Rwanbatt1 Commanding Officer, Lt Col Vianney Cuba, said the medals serve as “an extra-ordinary motivation” to their renewed commitment to fulfillment of the tasks that lie ahead.
He spoke of the urgent need to “bring peace to our brothers and sisters in South Sudan particularly in Area of Operation/Sector South”. The RDF senior officer also expressed “profound gratitude for the endless and immeasurable cooperation and support extended to Rwanbatt-1 by UNMISS Force Headquarters and Sector South leadership that make the unit’s day-to-day operations a success”.
The event, which was characterised by a military parade and cultural performances from the Rwandan peacekeepers, was also attended by Rwanda’s Lt Gen Frank Kamanzi Mushyo, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General and UNMISS Force Commander.
Rwanda, one of the five largest troop and police contributing countries to UN peacekeeping, maintains peacekeepers in different parts of the world, including in Sudan’s Darfur region, Central African Republic, and Haiti.
In July, Rwanda became the first country to deploy troops to South Sudan as part of a newly United Nations-authorised Regional Protection Force to help secure civilian areas and supplement UNMISS’s efforts toward bringing peace and stability in the troubled country.