For Blue Helmets serving for peace with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), personal reward remains second to helping conflict-affected populations feel safe.
However, 332 dedicated women and men from China deployed as engineers and medical peacekeepers to this young nation’s Western Bahr El Ghazal state recently received the prestigious UN medal for their unceasing efforts to improve the lives of communities here.
It has been a life-changing experience revealed Major Guang Zhiyong, political instructor to Chinese troops, and a medal recipient.
“This is my first UN Peacekeeping mission and to be honest, it may be the only chance I get to do my bit for the cause of world peace,” he stated.
“As our time in South Sudan comes to an end, I speak on behalf of all my fellow peacekeepers from China—it has been immensely fulfilling to help people who need our support. The UN medal will have pride of place in our homes and future rotations will continue to support this country in its quest for a lasting peace,” added Major Zhiyong.
The occasion was colourful, with military parades and cultural performances.
And speakers at the meaningful ceremony lauded Chinese peacekeepers.
“Chinese engineers and medical peacekeepers have provided exceptional support to communities, humanitarian partners, and the mission. Their work in Western Bahr El Ghazal has been excellent and we are grateful for their contributions to peace, stability, and development,” said Brigadier General Kweku Dankwa Hagan, UNMISS Sector Commander in the state.
Recognition also came from state authorities.
“It is hard to find the rights words to express gratitude to Chinese engineers who have rendered immense services to our people by ensuring that the state capital, Wau, remains connected to counties by building and maintaining top-notch roads and bridges,” averred Sarah Cleto Hassan, state Governor.
Through their work in rehabilitating major supply routes, including four key bridges as well as consistent airport maintenance, these engineers have also shored up travel possibilities to neighbouring Warrap and Unity states, thereby boosting trade as well as helping communities convene, connect.
What’s more, these dedicated peacekeepers won hearts and minds of host communities through numerous cultural exchanges; helped bolster food security by building agricultural capacities among local interlocuters; and provided encouragement to students by handing over school supplies.
“Our Chinese peacekeepers have braved tough terrain and adverse conditions to make sure that the people we are on the ground to serve have their needs met. They have earned the community’s admiration and goodwill,” said Sam Muhumure, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in the state.
His words are borne out by Major Cheng Jun, the Chief Operations Officer for the Chinese Horizontal Engineering Company who recounts the challenges in repairing a major bridge.
“We drove 452 kilometers, stayed seven days in makeshift shelters at the location and used eight specialized personnel to repair damages to Billy bridge without any large equipment. It was enormously challenging but the positive impact on local populations made every effort worth it,” revealed the Major with a smile.
The last word came from Lieutenant-Colonel Li Hui, Commanding Officer of the Chinese contingent.
“The Chinese army emphasizes high standards and strict commitment, and I have ensured that the contingent takes every job seriously. I am heartened to see that our work has made a tangible difference,” he concluded with quiet pride.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).