"Peace keeping is not soldier's job, but only the soldiers can do it." This adage which encourages the peace keepers of various countries deputed in peace keeping at the call of the United Nations in various conflict hit areas of the world carries a deep meaning in it.
In fact, an army is prepared in a country for fighting wars and to protect it from enemies. But the same army can take the path shown by Buddha away from the path of war, to save humanity, as peace keepers.
Nepal Army has been playing the role of peace keepers in various 13 conflict-hit countries, at the call of the United Nations since 1958, after less than three years of Nepal’s receiving the UN membership. In this connection, the number of Nepal Army participating in peace keeping has reached 100,000 this year. Nepal’s 59 soldiers attained martyrdom for peace in this long but glorious journey.
An army can not do without weapons, but everything is not possible from weapons. Nepali peace keepers in Rumbek, the provincial capital of Lake State of South Sudan which is bearing the burnt of ethnic conflict have shown the example that the army should not lag behind in taking pen and equipments by laying down weapons if need be.
Rumbek Secondary School established in 1948, prior to the division of the country is one of the few old schools of the whole Sudan. The Rumbek School was built during the British times in the territory ruled by British, which ruled for long. But only after 66 years of its establishment, toilet and bathroom has been built in the school recently under the initiative of the Nepali peace keepers. The school building, built in large stretch of land, seems to be imposing but without toilets. It is learnt that toilets were not built in the school as the then African people had no habit of using indoor toilets.
The principal of the school John Shamba expressed before the Nepali journalists reaching Rumbek from Nepal recently that the Nepal Army which is deputed in peace keeping built the toilet and bathroom and did a benevolence that the school family will never forget.
The school with more than 3,000 students has however, only 136 girl students and of the 30 teachers, there is only one female teacher, said Shamba. This tells how vulnerable the situation of women’s education is still now in South Sudan.
Another example shows how skillful the Nepal Army peace keepers are in winning the hearts of the locals wherever they are deployed.
Youth and Sports Minister of Lake State Ms. Mariam Jean Paul while recalling the friendly football match held at the Rumbek grounds between local youths and Nepal Army peacekeepers Indrabox Battalion a few months ago, requested the Nepali peace keepers in Rumbek to give continuity to such activities.
Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Bharat Chandra Gurung while informing that the football match was quite cordial and competitive and Nepali team won by one goal in last minutes, said more than 10,000 people had gathered in the site to see the match and he was informed that this much people had never ever gathered at one place in the history of Rumbek. Nepali and South Sudanese cultural programmes were organized under the initiative of the peace keepers and Nepal Army always takes initiative for distributing exercise books, books and pens to the students.
The rumor that a woman of Neur community suffering delivery pains gave birth to a baby with the help of the Nepali peace keeping medical team and the name of he boy was given as ‘Nepal Choy,’ is still hot in Rumbek.
The UNMISS officials deployed in South Sudan for peace keeping are also much impressed by the working style, capacity and discipline of the Nepali peacekeepers.
Special Representative of UN Secretary General Mr. Hilde Johnson in a meeting with Nepali journalists at his own office in Juba, the capital of South Sudan said although small in number, the Nepal Army peace keepers have been playing effective role in maintaining peace and security in South Sudan, adding that they are practical and work with dedication and zeal.
He also informed that the number of Nepali peacekeepers will be added in South Sudan on the basis of their effectiveness.
Asked how the problem of South Sudan would be resolved, UNMISS Chief Johnson said problem can be solved if the leaders and people here move ahead peace process with nation in focus.
Likewise, second man after him, and UNMISS Force Commander Delali Johnson Sakyi (Ghana major general) said UNMISS is proud of Nepali peacekeepers and asked the Nepali team of journalists to convey his gratitude to Nepal government in his brief reaction.
He also gave away special letter of appreciation to Nepali peace keepers in Juba for their easy accomplishment of task avoided by peace keepers of other countries saying they were risky.
Already familiarized with the bravery of the Nepali Army for long, UNMISS Chief of Staff Force Colonel Peter Lindquist also praised the Nepali peacekeepers as soon as he recognized Nepali team in UNMISS headquarters. He also mentioned that many were taken aback when the Nepali peace keepers gave the people the feel of security by making extensive patrolling in their own initiative in Juba after they came from Haiti as soon as the conflict of the December 15.
Journalists duo Denis Dumo and Peter Luious who were found at UNMISS headquarters also said the Nepal Army had been working effectively for maintaining peace by patrolling as per UNMISS policies for protecting citizens in conflict hit areas of their country and urged to increase patrolling outside the city areas as well.
All important personalities met by high level Nepali delegation led by Brigadier General of Nepal Army Jagadish Chandra Pokhrel to observe study tour of the role played by Nepali peacekeepers in South Sudan including Lake State Governor Mc Dong, UNMISS Spokesperson Ariane Quentier, Civil Affairs Officer Ms. Jennifer Grover, Gender Affairs Officer Abdulai Sheriff, Wade Mageng of Radio Miraya, displaced group leader Samuel Paul and women leader Nyapal Domai also lauded the role played by Nepal Army peace keepers.
Asked what is the reason behind Nepal peace keepers popularity here, UNMISS Deputy Force Commander NA Brigadier General Ramesh Kumar Pun said the main reason is their courage, discipline, honesty, and friendliness, and this was the power of Nepal Army.
Nepal peacekeepers Bhairav Battalion has been capable of maintaining peace in Juba even in quite challenging situations, said Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Sanukaji Thapa.
If we see the resources and facilities, peace keepers of other countries are more attractive, but Nepal Army peace keepers are the best in the art of winning hearts of the conflict-hit people in the foreign land.