SA marks International Day of UN Peacekeepers

Monday, May 29, 2017

Pretoria - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has joined the internal community in commemorating the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

The United Nations declared 29 May as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers to pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication and courage of all the men and women serving in UN peacekeeping operations, and honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

The SANDF commemoration was held in Bloemfontein, which also saw a parade to honour the 39 South African soldiers killed since the country became an active troop and equipment supplier to both African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) continental peacekeeping and peace support missions.

South Africa is revered for being a major contributor to the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission efforts, with annual contributions constantly fluctuating between 1 500 and 2 500 members.

“We have grown steadily throughout the years, acquired experience and learnt a lot of lessons. We are still learning and are refining our skills. This has made us highly sought after amongst the community of nations,” said Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Speaking at the event, Minister Mapisa-Nqakula called on SANDF members to rededicate themselves to the Code of Conduct and consistently strive to deserve the trust of the people.

“Through your dedicated work and discipline, rise to the challenges before you. Through your achievements, prove to our Commander-in-Chief and the nation that they can truly value your contribution to making Africa a safer, more secure and better place to live in for generations to come.”

Ending sexual exploitation of women in conflict zones

The Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) of women by peacekeepers in the areas where they are deployed has recently come under the spotlight.

This growing and alarming trend, which registered seven cases in 2015, five in 2016, and as at end of March 2017, three cases since the start of the calendar year.

“We must all hang our heads in shame that some of our soldiers have been found guilty of SEA,” the Minister said, adding that the picture does not look good.

“One case of SEA is one case too many. The reverberations it causes throughout the contingent and the image it gives our country reverses the gains we have made over the entire period of almost two decades we have been involved in peace missions.”

The Minister called on the SANDF members to carry out their tasks at all times within the framework of the norms and values of the military profession.

“You are entrusted with the responsibility to safeguard our people and bettering the lives of millions on the African continent. Therefore your professional status is not an inherent right but is granted through a contract with the society within which we operate.” - SAnews.gov.za

 

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