Chinese blue helmets safeguard peace in Africa

Source: XinhuaEditor: Yao Jianing
2015-12-04 15:56

JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- In the past decade, Chinese peacekeepers in Africa have been in the front line of carrying out UN missions in unrest-hit countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Mali, Liberia, Sudan and South Sudan.

Their work has helped maintain peace and stability in these regions, benefiting people that have suffered from turmoil and poverty.

SOUTH SUDAN

Founded in 2011, South Sudan fell into conflicts in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his sacked deputy Riek Machar of coup attempt. A peace deal was signed in August, seeking to end the clashes.

China sent its first peacekeeping infantry battalion to South Sudan in April this year.

The battalion, consisting of 700 peacekeepers, has been tasked with protecting civilians as well as UN personnel and facilities. They have also participated in humanitarian relief and street patrolling.

Their professionalism and hard work have won praise from UN officials and local residents.

"When we have disturbances or unrest in protection of the civilians site, they (Chinese peacekeepers) have shown very quick reaction that I appreciate very much," Ellen Loej, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Of the 700 members, there are 13 women soldiers. Loej said that these women, though small in number, have been working very hard side by side with their male colleagues.

"We have been very happy and satisfied with the Chinese battalion," she said.

There is also a Chinese engineering company and medical team based in the country's northwestern city of Wau, numbering around 300.

LIBERIA

In 1980, a coup overthrew the then ruling True-Whig party, marking the beginning of some two decades of political instability in Liberia.

China has sent peacekeepers to Liberia since 2003. Currently, more than 500 Chinese peacekeepers are carrying out UN missions in Liberia.

Hubert H. Price, director of Mission Support of UN Missions in Liberia, hailed the 190-member Chinese transportation unit in an interview with Xinhua in October, saying they have registered "zero accident rate" during their mandate.

"I would give nine of ten or maybe ten (marks) for them," Price said, adding that "keeping the roads open is very important for industry and people moving farm produce."

Since the arrival of the first batch, the Chinese peacekeeping engineering soldiers have renovated over 9,000 km of roads and helped build nearly 200 bridges.

MALI

Mali was plunged into chaos and violence in 2012 following a military coup and armed attack against the government, with the northern part being the most hit.

In 2013, China sent peacekeepers to Mali and currently nearly 400 Chinese peacekeepers are carrying out UN missions in the northern town of Gao.

Speaking recently to Xinhua, Koen Davidse, deputy special representative of the Secretary General in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said the Chinese engineer, medical and force protection units had all done a perfect job and built good relations with the local population.

"I am impressed by the unique relation between Chinese troops and the population of Gao. They support numerous schools in Gao by providing medical support, something that is recognized and appreciated by the population," he said.

DR CONGO

In DR Congo where rebel groups have been operating in the eastern region since the late 1990s, China has so far deployed 19 batches of peacekeepers since April 2003.

The Chinese military engineers and medical staff have completed missions related to road and bridge construction, medical care, epidemic control and humanitarian aid.

Over the years, the engineers have renovated hundreds of kilometers of roads and built more than 10 bridges, while the medical personnel have treated thousands of people.

The Chinese peacekeepers have also been involved in landmine detection, transportation and airport maintenance.

Late last year, the Chinese peacekeepers were awarded with an honorary decoration by the UN Mission for Stabilization of Congo for their excellent performance.

SUDAN

In Sudan's restive region of Darfur, China has sent 11 batches of peacekeepers under the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur.

The 225-strong team has been undertaking tasks including building makeshift airports, bridges and roads and civilian protection.

China first got involved in UN peacekeeping missions in 1990. It has become the biggest contributor among the five UN Security Council permanent members in terms of the number of blue helmets.

According to China's Ministry of National Defense, over 30,000 Chinese peacekeepers have served overseas since 1990, taking part in 24 UN peacekeeping missions. Ten of them lost their lives on duty.

Globally, Chinese peacekeepers have built and repaired over 11,000 km of roads and more than 300 bridges. They have removed 9,400 mines and explosives, and received 149,000 patients.

In September this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at a UN Summit that China would contribute 8,000 troops for a UN peacekeeping standby force.

Xi also pledged that China would provide military aid worth 100 million U.S. dollars to the African Union to support the establishment of the African Standby Force, Africa's peacekeeping troops.

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