Ghanaian peacekeepers at the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were commended for giving lifesaving support to a man severely wounded in recent violent inter-communal clashes in the north of the country.
Their timely efforts to stabilise and evacuate the victim showed “every second counts” when providing medical assistance, according to a senior UNMISS official.
Lieutenant Colonel RK Sagoe, Commanding Officer of the Ghanaian battalion, reflected on the events of late December.
“We were on an air patrol to meet local communities in Mir Mir, a village in the Unity region, following reports of conflict in the area”, he said.
“Usually, during interactions such as these, we are met with kindness by community leaders but this time there was a sense of urgency as soon as we were on the ground.”
The blue helmets learned a community member was hit by stray bullets during an inter-communal clash the previous night.
“The man sustained injuries to his face, neck and shoulder. He needed help and immediate medical attention,” platoon commander Lieutenant Totein Sulbein said.
Peacekeepers swung into action.
Staff Sergeant Abigail Bredzei, battalion medical attendant, dressed the patient’s wounds, administering a pain reliever and stabilising infusions.
Other team members liaised with UNMISS headquarters in Juba to arrange urgent evacuation to Unity State capital Bentiu.
“The response from headquarters was speedy and we were able to fly the injured man from Mir Mir to Bentiu where he went into surgery. We are told he is stable,” Sagoe said.
“As peacekeepers whose main task is to protect civilians across South Sudan, this is the best outcome we hoped for”, he added.
Sulbein offered further insight into the role of uniformed personnel from across the world serving under the UN flag.
“The man would have died if we hadn’t acted rapidly. For us, as peacekeepers, being able to help communities when they need us the most is always cause for celebration.”
Protecting civilians, saving lives
UNMISS has been in South Sudan since July 2011, protecting civilians displaced by conflict, facilitating conditions for delivery of humanitarian aid and supporting peace efforts.
The mission routinely goes beyond its mandate to help South Sudanese people, especially in terms of healthcare, saving lives and other critical tasks.
Hiroko Hirahara, head of the Bentiu UNMISS field office, pointed out timely response is critical in situations like the Mir Mir one.
“When you have someone with severe injuries every second counts. I’m glad the patrol team was able to co-ordinate all parts to make sure swift and timely medical assistance was provided to save a life,” she said.