The absence of females among the Ghanaian peacekeepers redeployed from Cote d’Ivoire to South Sudan in February this year is to allow their male counterparts to go and prepare grounds for them to join subsequent battalions in the country, the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has stated.
It stated that currently, as pertained to every new mission, the 300-man peacekeepers were faced with challenges such as accommodation, logistics and administrative constraints in South Sudan.
“After three months in South Sudan, the troops we are redeploying will make recommendations that will allow the Ghana Armed Forces to take decisions that will serve the best interest of the female soldiers,” the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Richard Opoku-Adusei, stated.
He was reacting to allegations made by an Accra-based private radio station that female soldiers had been left out of the troops being redeployed from Cote d’Ivoire to South Sudan.
The female soldiers, who served on the GHANBAT 19 in Cote d’Ivoire, have returned home.
Major General Opoku-Adusei made this known when he and other high officials of the GAF paid a visit to the troops at their base at Bondoukou in Cote d’Ivoire last Thursday, January 30, 2014.
He was accompanied by 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.
The visit was meant to boost the morale of the soldiers, as well as to learn of the challenges facing them.
The troops’ redeployment is the third to take place with Ghanaian peacekeepers serving various missions. The first took place when the GAF moved its UN force from Sinai in Egypt to South Lebenon in 1979 and the second happened in 1999 when troops were moved from Liberia to Sierra Leone.
The Chief of Army Staff stated that over the years, any new peacekeeping mission that was deployed to a country often faced teething challenges in terms of accommodation, logistics and administration.
“Currently, there is lack of accommodation, place for ablution and administrative challenges that will make it inconvenient to send our female troops to South Sudan,” he stated.
He said troops being redeployed from Cote d’Ivoire to South Sudan would go and undertake not only due reconnaissance of the region but also ensure that the environment in South Sudan was “more conducive”.
The Chief of Army Staff stated that currently there were about 191 women peacekeepers in South Sudan, including some Ghanaian police women.
“Sending our female troops home is not a policy of the Ghana Armed Forces but a decision taken in their best interest,” Major General Opoku-Adusei stated.
After serving almost close to six months with their 300 male colleagues in Cote d’Ivoire, the women were brought home after being given what was due them.
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