The United Nations top police official today welcomed the arrival of a contingent of female police officers to the world body's peacekeeping missing in Côte d'Ivoire.
"The Police Division welcomes this contingent of highly qualified female officers. The goal of the United Nations, since 2009, is to have at least 20 per cent of our police service female by the end of 2014," the UN Police Adviser, Ann-Marie Orler, told the UN News Centre.
"We are only half-way there globally and in Côte d'Ivoire, but more deployments like this will make it possible," she added.
The contingent of 15 female police officers from Rwanda is the first formed police unit to serve since with the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) since it was established in 2004 by the Security Council to facilitate the peace process in the country, which was split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.
In the aftermath of the post-election violence that followed the 2010 presidential polls, the mission is assisting the West African nation with a number of key tasks, including the restoration of law and order, national reconciliation, the holding of legislative elections, and economic recovery.
The addition of the formed police unit brings the total number of police officers serving with UNOCI to 484, including 45 women with the arrival of the 15 Rwandan officers.
According to the UN Police Division, the world body's policing activities have expanded rapidly over the last decade.
Not only has the United Nations almost tripled the number of police authorized for deployment - from less than 6,000 to more than 17,500 - but UN police mandates have also become more multi-dimensional, including roles such as safeguarding law and order while facilitating the launch of domestic police services, as well as more traditional role of advising and mentoring.
"I very much hope that other Members States will continue to increase the number of female officers that they deploy," Ms. Orler added.