The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has sent a total of 600 peacekeepers to Somalia to replace an equal number of fighters who have been recalled from the battlefield after serving for one year.
The Commander Land Forces in the UPDF Lt Gen Peter Elwelu on Friday flagged off the seventh United Nations Guard Unit (UNGU VII) to Somalia commanded by Lt.Col.Franis Odikiro at a function held at the Peace Support Operations and Training Center (PSO-TC) in Singo, Nakaseke District.
Elwelu urged the group to emulate the earlier groups that have done a commendable job in Somalia and made Uganda proud.
He urged them to maintain the standards through selfless service, doing their tasks to the required standards, and being disciplined.
“You will be required to serve above self, do excellent work and keenly follow the Standing Operating Procedures as well as observing all the UN standard behaviors that include but are not limited to saying no to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) in your working environment,” Lt.Gen. Elwelu told the troops.
He cautioned the officers against misbehaving that would see Uganda’s force added onto the UN list of mission with a bad record of human right violations.
“Cases of sexual exploitation and abuse and other forms of violation of ideals have been reported in many UN missions across the globe. However, the records of Uganda’s first five UNGU deployments in Somalia are good. Maintain this image or even do better works to further polish Uganda’s image in UN missions.”
Lt.Gen.Elwelu warned, “Uganda is privileged to be selected by the UN to contribute a Guard Unit. There have not been many Guard Units in the history of the UN. It would, therefore, be very disheartening to Ugandans to hear that their representatives in UNGU VII are involved in violations.”
The Commandant of the Peace Support Operations and Training Center, Brig.Bony Wolimbwa said UNGU VII will deploy in a phased manner based on UN and World Health Organization’s guidelines on prevention and control of COVID-19.
The flag-off ceremony was attended by principle staff officers of PSO-TC and Commanders of the 30th and 31st Battle Groups who are also at PSO-TC on standby for deployment to Somalia but are still affected by the current suspension of rotation for troops under African Union deployment following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Nations Guard Unit (UNGU) is a group of troops under the AMISOM tasked with protecting UN staff and installations in Mogadishu in order to assist staff of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and other parts of the UN system to carry out their work in the Horn of Africa country’s capital.