The Federal Government is not happy with the way Nigerian soldiers are killed in the course of their peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan, Adetokunbo Kayode, the minister of defence, has said.
Mr. Kayode made the comments, yesterday, at the United Nations (UN) regional conference on deterrence, use of force and operational readiness in peace keeping operations at the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre (NAPKC) in Jaji, Kaduna.
The minister said members of the Nigerian contingent recently disarmed in Darfur were caught between abiding with the mandate of the mission and protecting themselves in the midst of rebels’ attacks.
“It is hoped that the outcome of the conference will be clear policy that will streamline the bottlenecks and create guidelines for efforts at reducing the complexity of mandates and the immediate resolution of conflicts.”
Chief of Army Staff, Abdulrahaman Dambazau, said that the guidelines should aim to answer immediate issues that affect the performance of troops in the field, but not hamper their performance.
“The sacrifices made in terms of lives by peacekeepers should not bolster the spirit of warring factions, rather every form of sacrifice should make us design better ways for our peacekeepers to have an edge over belligerents,” he said.
Mr. Dambazau called for policies that would enable the organisation prepare peacekeepers for effective duty on UN missions, especially in Africa.
“The successes that will follow any peace support mission are determined by the state or level of preparedness of the troops.”
Nigerian peacekeepers honoured
Eleven Nigerian soldiers were among United Nations international peacekeepers honoured posthumously in May as part of the eighth annual International Day of UN Peacekeepers at the world body’s headquarters in New York.
The occasion was marked with several events at the UN on the previous day, including the presentation of service medals to peacekeepers, including two Nigerian military officers.
The UN list tracked the loss of international peacekeepers from January 2009 to February 2010.
On the list of fallen peacekeepers were two Nigerian officers: Johnson Umana, who died in Darfur on May 7, 2009, and Bala Etsu, who died in April 27, also in Darfur.
Others from Nigeria included John Itebu, who died on May 25, 2009; Gonjing Toma, who died in Darfur on June 10, 2009; Mathew Abel, who died in Lebanon on June 23, 2009; John Ahmed, who died in Darfur on March 17, 2009; and Leonard Ajibo, who also died in Darfur on February 25, 2010.
There were also Yusuf Ibrahim, who died in Darfur on September 28, 2009; Bello Ishaku, who died in Darfur on October 14, 2009; Taryuhua Ningir who died in Lebanon on October 30, 2009; and Dede Fadairo, who died in Haiti on January 12, 2010, in an earthquake.
As a mark of their sacrifice, the Dag Hammarskjöld UN Medal will be sent to the next-of-kin of the fallen soldiers. More than 700 UN peacekeepers have died in the course of duty in the past five years, with more than 3,000 lives lost since the first operation in 1948.