300 Ghanaian peacekeepers in Cote d’Ivoire redeployed to South Sudan

Three hundred Ghanaian peacekeepers serving under the United Nations Operations in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) are being redeployed to South Sudan.

The GHANBAT 19 team, currently in Cote d’Ivoire, becomes the first-ever team of Ghanaian peacekeepers to be redeployed from one mission in a country to another.

The contingent has already served close to six months in Cote d’Ivoire, contributing to the restoration of peace, security and stability in that country, according to the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).

The redeployment followed the outstanding professionalism and commitment of the team in Cote d’Ivoire, it stated.

As part of preparations for their departure to South Sudan in early February, a high-powered delegation of the GAF paid a visit to the peacekeepers at their base at Bondoukou in Cote d’Ivoire on January 30.

The entourage, led by the Chief of Army Staff of the GAF, Major General Richard Opoku-Adusei, was there to psyche up the personnel for their next mission, as well as to gain insight into the challenges facing the contingent.

Other officials were the Director-General for International Peace Support Operations, Brigadier General Asamoah Yeboah; Director of Army Peacekeeping Operations, Colonel Nick Kporku, and Sergeant Major of the Army, Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Emmanuel Neequaye.

They were met at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny International Airport by the outgoing Defence Attaché in Cote d’Ivoire, Commodore Kwadwo Osei Sarfo, and his predecessor, Commodore Isaac Osei Kuffour, who flew with them to Bondoukou.

Troops making a difference  
Major General Opoku-Adusei stated that since Ghana started contributing to peacekeeping operations globally, none of the country’s battalion had ever performed “abysmally”.

“This envious record has attracted the eyes of the international community to praise Ghana for its performance towards peace, security and stability in conflict-prone regions,” he said. 

He told the soldiers that it was the first time a UN peacekeeping mission had been selected and transferred from one country to another.

“You, as special forces, have been selected to continue your outstanding mission in South Sudan and this has never occurred before.

“The UN has recognised your role in helping to mitigate the suffering of Ivorians and instead of letting you go home, it wants you to go and make a similar difference in South Sudan,” the Major General added.

Think positive 
Major General Adusei-Opoku, who spent a lot of time interacting with the troops, reminded them of how the people of Cote d’Ivoire cherished their presence.

He was highly optimistic that they would be appreciated by the people of the newest country in the world, where rebels and the government had signed a peace accord to halt violence.

Nonetheless, he advised them not to relax in their efforts, as going to a new environment could expose them to hostilities, “hence the need to apply the principles you have learnt”.

“It is a matter of standing firm and applying the principles you have been taught in the military, since this is what makes the military different,” he added 

Logistical support
The Chief of Army Staff told the contingent that the GAF headquarters was making efforts to acquire new equipment that the contingent would need to make the South Sudan operation a success.

He said the government had already provided 15 armoured vehicles, 12 Toyota Land Cruisers, 20 tents, 10 air conditioners, 300 camouflaged uniforms, several cartons of medicines and communication gadgets for the mission. 

Major General Adusei-Opoku appealed to the peacekeepers to take good care of the logistics.

Adhere to discipline 
For his part, MWO Neequaye reminded the troops that discipline had always been the backbone of the army and advised them to always adhere to the rules and regulations of the military.

The Commanding Officer of the Ghana Battalion in Cote d’Ivoire, Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd Atror, thanked the government and the hierarchy of the Ghana Army for their support for the mission.

He, however, called for more support as they moved to South Sudan.

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