Kenyan Police Officers Awarded UN Medals for Distinguished Service in South SudanTirus Wainaina
A contingent of Kenyan police officers have been praised for their professional and distinguished service to the United Nations and the people of South Sudan during a medal ceremony in the capital Juba.
The 23 officers have served with the UN Mission in South Sudan since November last year, carrying out a variety of duties including community policing and protecting displaced people in Protection of Civilian sites, many of whom are women and children.
The officers say their close interaction with the community of vulnerable civilians who are suffering because of ongoing violence has been a rewarding experience.
“It has been quite an experience learning how the conflict has affected them and getting an opportunity to talk to them, to guide and counsel them about general life and all they can do on an individual level to survive in the POCs,” said Kenyan Chief Inspector Irene Kerubo. “I’ve also enjoyed talking to the women about life after the POCs when, finally, South Sudan gets peace as well as encouraging the children to understand that the POC is not the end of life, they have a life after that.”
Kenya has played an important role in peace-building in South Sudan as talks continue between its leaders in the hope of bringing an end to conflict that has plagued the country since 2013. Political negotiations are currently being hosted in Khartoum by Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir and further talks may be held in Nairobi in the coming weeks.
While attending the UN medal ceremony, the Kenyan Ambassador to South Sudan said that political leaders in his country are committed to supporting their neighbour build enduring peace.
“It is our hope that the leadership in South Sudan will rise above all parties and interests in order to pursue peace for the people of South Sudan,” said Ambassador Clelland Leshore. “We are optimistic that goodwill and dialogue will lay the foundations for peace in this country.”
As he awarded the UN Medal to each officer, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, David Shearer, praised the officers for performing professionally and with integrity and said that their families and country should be proud of them. He noted that they had worked in many dangerous and remote locations across the country at a time of ongoing violence.
“I wanted just to acknowledge the environment that you are working in and the dedication and the service that you are providing in those environments,” said David Shearer. “They are as I say not easy places to be and when you’re in those environments you realize how far away from your loved ones and family members as well.”
The officers say their lives have been enriched by their time working alongside UN colleagues from many different cultures as well as the people of South Sudan. They go home proud of their service, confident they made a difference, and with an experience they will never forget.