Pakistani major’s insight on MONUSCO operations

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A Pakistani major attached to the UN’s largest peace mission outlined eight rewarding aspects of her work with MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a personal tribute to International Women’s Day (8 March).

Major Samia Rehman is one of the operational planning officers at MONUSCO sees protecting civilians from violence as probably the most important part of her work in the central African country.

“Being a woman, a female peacekeeper, I understand the suffering of Congolese women. I’m working to protect citizens under threat in five provinces in the DRC — Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, Tanganyika and Kasai. I also worked protecting civilians in Goma and facilitated the roll-out of a protection of civilians’ toolkit.

“By deploying peacekeeping troops on the ground, my team and I are making communities in the DRC safe for others to deliver humanitarian assistance. As part of my job, I take measures to ensure security in and around camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) so they can return home in a manner that is safe, voluntary and dignified,” she said.

Her work also involves placing peacekeeping troops in the DRC to control violent clashes and disputes between communities and to deter violence.

“In planning, I make sure we deploy peacekeepers with the right skills and training to protect civilians. Sound planning, along with quick and effective responses by ground forces can help promote calm and ultimately keeps communities safer.”

Working with civilian, military and police components from other countries is, according to Rehman, “an experience with varied learning opportunities”. This includes operational planning of “multiple international armies”. She currently works with uniformed peacekeepers from countries including the United Kingdom, France, Russia, India, Egypt, South Africa, Bangladesh, Uruguay, Gambia and Ghana as well as her own Pakistan.

“I am involved in how the various elements of a peacekeeping mission, government forces and people from other disciplines and parts of the world work together to promote peace”.

Rehman has been part of operational planning with Special Forces to protect civilians, deter armed groups, reassure the population and prevent conflict from escalating which she said was “an incredible learning opportunity”.

Her efforts at MONUSCO have not gone unnoticed and she was honoured with an appreciation certificate from Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG)