Ghanaian troops deployed in South Sudan since July last year were honoured with United Nations (UN) service medals for, among others, “proving their undisputed worth” during the worst flooding in 60 years.
Roseline Nkwelle of UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) reported on the medal parade writing: “Take a bow, Ghana. No less than 696 of your finest sons (594) and daughters (102) received UN medals for outstanding service”.
Apart from the standard protecting civilians’ duty, the Ghanaian contingent often worked in tandem with Pakistani engineering colleagues ensuring their safety while essential infrastructure maintenance work is done. Their combined efforts saved the Rubkhona airstrip, a lifeline for state capital Bentiu and prevented thousands of civilians from being submerged.
Always keen to build bridges with host communities in South Sudan, the Ghanaian blue helmets undertook a number of capacity building and vocational training efforts on skills ranging from computer literacy to tailoring, Nkwelle wrote.
Most recently Ghanaian troops were in the forefront protecting civilians in the often volatile southern Unity State, where their robust presence, including day and night patrols in violence plagued areas, benefitted local communities and humanitarian workers alike according to Nkwelle.
“It is challenging and exciting to work with and for the people of South Sudan,” said 25-year-old Aircraftman Class I Irene Larbi, the youngest medallist. “This is my first time serving in a UN peacekeeping mission. This medal means a lot and is a big source of motivation for me”.
“I am proud of my work as chief logistics officer of the Ghanaian Battalion,” said Major Georgina Asabea Asare. “Ensuring we are present where and when needed through timely and effective deployment of personnel and equipment is key when it comes to protecting civilians.”