As the world marked the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Wonie Bio joined the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) on Sunday to mourn four fallen soldiers to commemorate those deployed to the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (Unomsil).
Unomsil was established in 1998 by the UN Security Council to help end the conflict between the rebels to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the government of Sierra Leone which plunged the country into civil war.
The four KDF soldiers, Corporal Evanson Muthee, Corporal Jeremiah Obuya, Private Robert Wanyama and Private Khamis Yunis Shurie, died in battle while fighting the rebels.
In her honor, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Director-General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi, lit a candle , in the presence of the soldiers’ families.
“I am here to express our sincere gratitude to the Kenyan Armed Forces. I thank the commanders, officers, men and women of the Kenyan contingent deployed to Sierra Leone,” said President Bio during the event at the International Peace Support Training Centre.
He added: “As the Government of Sierra Leone, we mourn the loss of the four with deep sadness and appreciation, and thank their families and the Kenyan nation for sacrificing the officers’ lives for peace in the country. Their sacrifices contributed immensely contributing to efforts to restore peace in Sierra Leone.”
Kenya’s contribution to international peacekeeping operations dates back to 1979, when it deployed troops to the Commonwealth Monitoring Force in Zimbabwe, which also included troops from Australia, Britain, Fiji and New Zealand.
Today, 43 years later, Kenya has over 60,000 men and women on peacekeeping missions underway zen countries contributed to the world, including Yemen, Iraq, Liberia, Mali, Sudan, Croatia, Syria, Char, Kuwait and Namibia, among others.
This includes over 2,963 soldiers and Military personnel deployed to UnomsiL between 1998 and 2005, a mission that proved successful as the troops managed to disarm and reintegrate the warring factions.
One of the commanders of the Kenyan contingent to Sierra Leone, Lieutenant General (RTD) Daniel Opande, became emotional as he recalled the day he asked commanders of the rebel forces to release the bodies of the four soldiers to be repatriated into the country could.
Recalling the state of the country at the time, he presented President Bio, who also presided over this year’s Madaraka Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens chief guest will honor a treatise on his Experiences in the country.
In complete turmoil
“I remember when I arrived in Sierra Leone it was in complete turmoil, there was a lot Sorry, but to have been sent by the late President Moi and knowing that I had the best soldiers, I knew the country would rise again,” said Lt. Gen (Rtd) Opande.
Today, KDF soldiers are actively deployed as part of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Monusco) and the Transition Mission of the African Union in Somalia (Atmis).
Foreign Affairs s CS Raychelle Omamo noted that the partnership between Kenya and Sierra Leone has stood the test of time during the civil war, as has the sending nurses and doctors from Kenya to the country to help fight the Ebola outbreak.
“According to today’s theme, ‘People. Peace. Progress. The power of partnerships,’ I want to remind us that there can be success when people come together in search of peace,” said CS Omamo.
Troops to Somalia
Chief of Defense Forces General Robert Kibochi said the country has sent over 5,000 troops to Somalia since it began operations in the country some 12 years ago, adding that the country still has plenty I need support from the international community.
“Today is the day we renew our commitment to ensuring peace and security, the courage, commitment and sacrifice of peacemakers around the world and remembering our great men and women who paid the ultimate price for peace as we reflect on the current state of affairs in the theater of war as we anticipate future peace operations p Lanen,” Gen Kibochi said.
The event was also attended by Deputy Chief of Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Francis Ogolla, Nairobi Metropo litan Director-General Lieutenant General Mohamed Badi, Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai, Director General of Kenya Wildlife Service Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru, Commissioner General of Prisons Brigadier (Rtd) John Warioba and Deputy Inspector General of Administrative Police Noor Gabow among other senior members of the diplomatic community, military and national police service.