The Commander of the Western Sector in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), Brigadier General (Dr) Emmanuel Wekem Kotia, has said that serving on peacekeeping mission is a noble opportunity to serve humanity.
“One must consider it an opportunity to work in the service of global peace. It means that you are an ambassador from your country working for peace,” he added.
Brigadier General Kotia was sharing his perspective on peacekeeping operations and challenges with the UN News.
He said UN peacekeeping had moved from a combination of multidimensional to high risk operations, “a situation that is now very dynamic and fluid.”
The former Deputy Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Centre for Peacekeeping Training (KAIPTC) said there was the need for the government of DR Congo to enact host of measures to facilitate the operational capabilities of Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as provide resources for civilian police to undertake the duties.
He added that the government should take ownership of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process for all the rebel factions that were turning in their weapons or voluntarily disarming themselves, especially in the areas around the Kasais.
Brig Gen Kotia has participated and gained experiences in ground-breaking transitional operations in Cambodia, a launching pad for key UN operations such as DDR and electoral support component and post electoral security landscape in DRC.
He said the Ebola virus and sporadic human rights abuses were sources of concerns to him as the commander of the region, noted for the death of some Ghanaian troops during the Congo crisis in the 1960s when Ghana first contributed troops for peacekeeping duties in the war-torn country.
Brig Gen Kotia said to protect civilians in the DRC, “It is important to underline that the highest risk peacekeeping operations must move toward more offensive operations.
“Indeed, the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in DRC could serve as a template for scaling up similar capacities in Mali and Central African Republic and other high risks we might have peacekeeping operations.”
He said peacekeeping operations were very challenging, adding that, “We are operating in very difficult environment and that is very big challenge.”
“Peacekeepers come from different countries and they need to get accustomed to these environments,” he added.
He expressed the need for a deeper understanding of the background to peace keeping before deployment of peacekeepers, stressing “since the concepts of operations are not specific, peacekeepers must often adjust their activities to deal with on-the-ground challenges.
“Additionally, we sometimes have inadequate numbers of peacekeepers to fulfill a mandate that is very big and that has a very wide scope.”
Brig Gen Kotia said without analytical understanding of conflict, one might not be able to come up with plans or strategies to implement to succeed in peacekeeping missions.
He also stressed on the need for respect for the culture of the local communities, saying “let’s remember that we are helping to stabilise an area or to create a secure environment, we are not there to dictate to them, so we must first understand culture so that we will be able to operate within the country and assist them.”
He said the introduction of female engagement team had been very successful in assisting women and children in deprived communities to rebuild their lives.
Brig Gen Kotia said Ghana had become one of the leading contributors of peacekeeping in the world “our country has served as a mentor to other countries in this field. We have gone on to establish the KAITC which serves as a global training centre for various aspect of peacekeeping.”