A total of 300 Ghanaian troops serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have been presented with medals in recognition of their service to UN peacekeeping.
A statement by the UN Information Centre in Accra on Tuesday said Eugene Owusu, a Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator, who presided over the medal parade, held at Bentiu, South Sudan, encouraged the peacekeepers to continue to bring hope to the people of South Sudan and to continue to work with the communities to alleviate their suffering.
“The situation in South Sudan is difficult at the moment,” he said.
“The world’s youngest country has encountered many challenges since the optimism that first came with independence. It is encouraging that the big guns are silent and that the peace process is broadly holding.
“We wish a transitional on national unity government will be formed soon to give the long suffering people of South Sudan the opportunity to rebuild their lives and for many South Sudanese the opportunity to live the life of dignity,” Mr Owusu said.
He also advised the peacekeepers to respect the policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, saying the peacekeepers were in South Sudan to protect the population.
“The Secretary-General and the United Nations has a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse and I would like to remind you of the importance of the exemplary behavior,” he said.
“As peacekeepers, we must never forget that we are here to protect and support the people of South Sudan. We are here to support peace and help South Sudan people to live in dignity.”
Mr Owusu said: “It is our individual and collective duty to safeguard the dignity of the people that we are here to support and protect. Everyone from the senior mission leadership, commanding officers to young soldiers or staff members, must comply with the policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.”
UNMISS was established in 2011 with the mandate to protect civilians, monitor and investigate human rights, create the conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance and offer support for the Implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
Ghana is currently the eighth largest contributor of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping with 3,198 currently deployed worldwide.