Helping Hands: UNMISS peacekeepers support sister UN mission in Central African Republic
“As peace operations worldwide, we’re operationally and, at times, geographically, connected to each other,” says Lieutenant-General Shailesh Tinaikar, UNMISS Force Commander. “Central African Republic and South Sudan are neighbours; the two countries have porous borders. As such, it’s easy for instability or conflict in one region to spill over.”
It is in this spirit of cooperation and commitment to sustainable peace that UNMISS supported the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in its efforts to support peaceful elections in the country.
300 military peacekeepers from Rwanda serving with UNMISS and two helicopters manned by the mission’s Sri Lankan aviation crew deployed to MINUSCA on 24 December 2020. Their objective: to bolster MINUSCA’s own resources during the country’s elections which took place on 27 December.
“Swift and timely response is what defines us as effective peacekeepers,” said Major-General Main Ullah Chowdhury, UNMISS Deputy Force Commander, to the Rwandan and Sri Lankan troops prior to their deployment. “Your operational preparedness is commendable, given the short time frame for this deployment,” he added.
For his part, David Shearer, the top UN envoy in South Sudan and the Head of UNMISS says he is extremely pleased with the agility and robustness demonstrated by the mission’s peacekeepers. “Elections are always a shifting landscape; things change from minute-to-minute. I’m very proud of our Rwandan and Sri Lankan colleagues. We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this but it’s a testament to their professionalism and dedication that when we were asked by our headquarters in New York to assist a sister mission, we were able to do so without any delays,” he reveals.
In 2018, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, launched the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative which aimed at ensuring a more agile, nimble and effective approach to the complex nature of modern conflict and instability. “The UNMISS assistance to MINUSCA is a near-perfect example of how the A4P initiative, with the support of member states and host governments, allows peacekeeping missions to prevent conflict and protect civilians in a proactive fashion,” says SRSG Shearer. “It also underlines another important fact -- the operational readiness of our peacekeepers is vital if we are to fully support the countries we serve in to build durable, peaceful democracies,” he adds.
UNMISS peacekeepers will continue supporting their counterparts in MINUSCA for the next few months till the political situation in the country stabilizes and post-election violence subsides.