Making a meaningful contribution to peace in Africa is a cornerstone of South Africa’s foreign policy with the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) the largest government executing agency.
This commitment currently sees 1 191 military and police personnel deployed to a number of UN and joint UN/AU peacekeeping and peace support missions on the continent, the world body said in a statement ahead of International Day of UN Peacekeepers (24 May). South Africans are part of three missions – MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), UNAMID in Darfur, Sudan, and UNMISS in South Sudan. Soldiers are deployed in DRC while police are deployed in Darfur and South Sudan.
This makes South Africa the 17th largest contributor to the 14 missions currently managed by the world body’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
When UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres marks the International Day of UN Peacekeepers at the world body’s headquarters in New York he will posthumously present the Dag Hammarskjold medal to 119 people who died while on blue helmet service.
One of the medals will go to the family of SA Police Service (SAPS) Sergeant Nokhaya Nastasia Nkwanyane. The 38-year-old was on leave from her posting to UNAMID when she died in January this year. She was afforded an official SAPS funeral. Nkwanyane joined SAPS as a student in 2005 and became a constable two years later with her next promotion coming in 2016. While in Darfur she was based at the Ratanda police station as an investigator.
Ethiopia is the largest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping missions with 7 499 soldiers and police deployed as of the end of April. Rwanda follows with 6 546 and Bangladesh is third with 6 487. Making up the top 10 are India (6 319), Nepal (5 834), Pakistan (5 092), Egypt (3 778), Indonesia (2 805), Ghana (2 777) and Senegal (2 645).
Other countries ahead of South Africa on the troop contributing list are China, Tanzania, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Chad and Togo.
In a video message to commemorate the day, Guterres said: “Today we honour more than a million men and women who served as UN peacekeepers since our first mission in 1948. We remember the more than 3 800 who paid the ultimate price. And we express our deepest gratitude to the 100 000 civilian, police and military peacekeepers deployed around the world today and the countries contributing these brave and dedicated men and women”.