DRC: PEACEKEEPERS’ DAY MARKED UNDER THE SIGN OF YOUTH COMMITTED TO PEACE AND SECURITY
"United Nations peacekeeping operations help to maintain peace in some of the world's most dangerous places." In his broadcast on the occasion of the celebration of the International Day of Peacekeepers, UN Secretary General paid tribute to the women and men who have chosen to devote their lives to "protecting the vulnerable and helping to build peace”.
Currently, there are 85,000 civilian, police and military personnel deployed in several countries around the world including the Democratic Republic of Congo where a major peacekeeping mission has been working alongside the Congolese authorities to bring peace to several areas torn by violence from armed groups. A difficult task peacekeepers are endeavoring to fulfill with dedication and courage. And sometimes, putting their own life on the line.
It is in their honor that several ceremonies were organized on May 28 in some cities of the country. In Kalemie, Bunia and Beni in particular, Monusco paid tribute to the peacekeepers as well as those who died in the service of peace.
'' We hail their sacrifices ''
On May 10, a Malawian peacekeeper was killed in an armed group’s attack on a MONUSCO temporary position in Beni territory. It was not the first time.
Peacekeepers are committed alongside the Congolese army to restore peace in this eastern DRC territory facing violence from armed groups for many years. Several lost their lives there.
The figure speaks volume. More than 4,000 peacekeepers have lost their lives in the line of duty around the world. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 211 peacekeepers have lost their lives since the establishment of the Mission in 1999. "Their service and sacrifice will never be forgotten," said António Guterres in his broadcast.
“We recognize the sacrifices they are making for Beni region and around the world. We do recognize this sacrifice,” said the mayor of Beni, Modeste Muhindo Bakwanamaha, during the ceremony held at Mavivi airport on the occasion of the International Day of Peacekeepers.
Like the deputy head of office, the deputy commander of MONUSCO intervention brigade and the officer representing the Congolese army at this ceremony and the mayor of Beni laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial for the fallen troops.
Answers to the questions posed by young people in Ituri
Youth are the focus of the international day of peacekeepers this year. “The road to Lasting Peace: leveraging the power of youth for peace and security’’ is the theme for this year’s commemoration.
"In the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO helps young people who run the risk of being recruited by armed groups, by offering them viable and lasting solutions, rather than letting them resort to violence," said the UN Secretary General in his broadcast.
In Bunia, more than 500 students took part on May 29 at Shalom University in a conference-debate during which they had the opportunity to ask questions about the work carried out by MONUSCO.
Officials from the UN Mission explained to the young students what MONUSCO has accomplished since arriving in the country in 1999. A work which, far from being perfect, has nevertheless facilitated the return of peace in some areas of the country, the stabilization and establishment of democratic institutions. This led to the disengagement of the Mission from the western part of the country.
While some remain skeptical about "the relevance of MONUSCO", others, on the other hand, claim to have finally understood the true role of the UN Mission.
“It was really interesting because many among us were ignorant. We did not know what to say about MONUSCO, there are too many negative comments about MONUSCO; people talk about MONUSCO without knowing what it has come to do in DR Congo… But this conference has helped us to understand what MONUSCO is, what is its mission in the DRC”, so testified Solange AMUNAZO, a 2nd year graduate student in Business Management at Shalom University in Bunia.
Tributes to the 11 peacekeepers fallen in Tanganyika
Their names were read out in a sober and solemn ceremony. These are the eleven peacekeepers who died while serving for the cause of peace in Tanganyika between 2001 and 2021. A minute's silence was observed, and a wreath was laid in their memory.
In addition to the Jordanian formed police units, members of the United Nations Police (UNPOL) and Congolese police officers undergoing training at MONUSCO headquarters in Kalemie joined in commemorating the event.
During this ceremony organized at the memorial site housed by MONUSCO headquarters in Kalemie, the head of office Jacob Mogeni, thanked each office component for their professionalism and commitment to the cause of peace. He also read out the message from the UN Secretary General.