UK engineering contingent receive UN Medal for service in South Sudan
Almost 100 members of the United Kingdom engineering contingent serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan have received medals recognizing their commitment and service to the people of the conflict-afflicted country.
The engineers have been serving in Malakal, in the north of the country, since July and will end their tour of duty in two months’ time. During their rotation, the UK troops have carried out significant infrastructural work vital to the Mission, including camp construction, building drainage systems and perimeter security structures as well as helicopter landing sites.
In Bentiu, the contingent is building a new permanent hospital, providing medical care to United Nations personnel, and clinical training to local medical staff at the Bentiu State Hospital. They are also working with colleagues from the Indian engineering battalion on remedial work at Rubkona airfield.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, David Shearer, awarded the UN Peacekeeping medals to the troops, including their commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Katie Hislop, at a special ceremony in Malakal.
Speaking at the event, he said their work had made a huge contribution to the Mission’s ability to fulfill its mandate of protecting civilians and building durable peace.
“Your efforts and professionalism are highly regarded and you have made a valuable contribution to UNMISS. It is my pleasure to award to you all the United Nations Peacekeeping Medal in recognition of your exemplary and outstanding work in South Sudan,” said David Shearer.
“I hope you wear these medals as proud and worthy ambassadors of your country and of the United Nations.”
The United Kingdom has nearly 700 uniformed personnel deployed within UN missions across the world. Its contribution to the UNMISS is its largest with nearly 400 troops serving in Juba, Bentiu and Malakal. Among the contingent are 41 female personnel, most of whom work at the UK hospital in Bentiu. David Shearer said he appreciated the UK’s recent decision to extend its commitment in South Sudan until 2020.
Speaking at the medal parade, Lt. Colonel Katie Hislop said the contingent appreciated the support and kindness of their fellow Troop Contributing Countries and the mission’s civilian and military staff whom she considered friends. They had built warm and strong relationships that would endure.
She said that the medal ceremony was about providing recognition for the soldiers’ commitment and service, “not just those who are visible and on parade, but those who are in the sangars and behind the scenes covering essential duties to protect and sustain us.”
For many of the contingent, it is their first deployment with the youngest soldier having turned 18 just before being arriving in South Sudan. Others have served their countries for decades before being deployed to Malakal and Bentiu.
“All have trained hard to be here, work hard every day to try and help UNMISS improve infrastructure and security in order to support the mission in protecting civilians,” said Lt. Colonel Hislop. “In addition to this, all our soldiers, have left behind friends and family in the UK – today is about saying thank to you them too.”