3 August 2018

Malawi Troops Making a Difference in Darfur With UN Every Day

Working in a complex peacekeeping mission in a place such as Sudan's Darfur region is both "challenging" and "refreshing," as each day is unpredictable and brings valuable experiences, according to female peacekeepers from Malawi currently serving with the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

"It's a remarkable experience to work in an environment where people from all levels are dedicated towards achieving the mandate," said Madalitso Malata, an Operations Officer.

Since joining UNAMID in March 2018, her responsibilities have included handling correspondence, as well as preparing and disseminating daily situation reports.

"My day starts with a prayer, it gives me strength for the day. Then I set up goals for the day, attend the Daily Morning Operational Brief, then work on my normal operational duties and, also on any other assigned task," she said."My day ends with an evening walk and run."

"Weather - extremely high temperatures and dust storms - is really a challenge but I am trying to adapt," she said, adding, "I feel proud to play a part in building a better future for the people of Darfur."

A civil war which broke out in 2003 led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Darfuris and the displacement of nearly two million. In the fighting between Sudanese Government troops and militias and other armed rebel groups, widespread atrocities such as murder and rape of civilians were committed.

UNAMID was formally established by the UN Security Council in 2007. Approximately 70 uniformed personnel from Malawi currently serve in the mission.

Malawi first contributed troops to UN peacekeeping in 1994. Today, it has over 900 uniformed personnel serving in several missions on the African continent.

"Working in an unpredictable environment is a challenge for me," said Anastasia Botoman, Administrative Support Officer in the Office of the Mission's Police Commissioner.

Her first job after being deployed to UNAMID in December 2017 was to conduct "confidence-building" patrols and help the Sudanese police force build capacity, as well as sensitize civilians and displaced persons on issues such as community policing and sexual and gender-based violence.

"UNAMID being an integrated mission, it has given me an opportunity to work in a multicultural environment widening my experience from different angles; it has also made me appreciate the importance of respect for diversity," she said.

Her family is also excited about her deployment as a peacekeeper because she is the first one among her siblings to serve in a UN mission, Ms. Botoman said, encouraging others from Malawi to "participate in UN missions with an open mind to learn more and contribute to peace in the world."


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